The aging Craigflower Bridge will soon see a shiny new successor take its place as the high-traffic crossing connecting Saanich and View Royal.
On Wednesday, the Capital Regional District board allocated $10 million in gas tax funds to support the construction of a new bridge and approaches.
“This is a regionally significant bridge. Over half the traffic is external to Saanich and View Royal. Even in peak hours, you’re looking at 42 per cent (of vehicles) are external to Saanich and View Royal,” Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard said. The two municipalities will foot the rest of the cost of the bridge, estimated to be an additional $800,000.
“It’s an important bridge to transit, it’s important to the cycling network, to pedestrian traffic, to commercial traffic. These sorts of projects would be difficult to do (with no gas tax allocated) without raising the tax base.”
Colin Doyle, Saanich’s director of finance calls the funding assistance “significant,” as neither municipality was entirely prepared for such a significant upgrade.
A load assessment conducted last December determined a repaired and widened bridge – the original plan – wouldn’t be able to sustain traffic load estimates. A repaired bridge would last less than 15 years unless traffic restrictions are put in place.
Stantec Consulting Ltd. was initially awarded a contract in November to fix the bridge, but work was suspended after it was determined repairs created more issues.
The gas tax spending decision must first be approved by the Union of B.C. Municipalities. In addition to the $10 million spent on Craigflower, the CRD allocated $8 million in gas tax funds to commuter bike lines and a multi-use trail on the Johnson Street Bridge and $550,000 for the Regional Sustainability Strategy.
Leonard said the replacement will be a welcome addition to Saanich, as crews have been working at road and sidewalk repairs along the span of Admirals Road north of Craigflower Bridge for two years.
At Saanich council last week, a $920,000 contract was awarded to G&E Contracting to reconstruct Admirals Road between Westing Road and Arundel Drive.
Once the bridge is replaced, it’s expected that all remaining approach roads will be upgraded on both sides of the bridge.