Johnson Street Bridge seismic concerns tempered

Project manager for the bridge assures council and the public that the new bridge is up to highest standards

Despite growing concerns, the new Johnson Street Bridge is being built with the highest seismic standards, said project manager Jonathan Hugget.

Issues regarding the seismic stability of the bridge arose after a media report that it was being built at a lower level of protection than what was recommended to the city.

“We have designed the bridge as a critical bridge,” said Hugget. “The bridge will be available to all traffic, not [just] emergency traffic, all traffic, after a 1 in 1,000 year earthquake.”

After a 1 in 2,500 year earthquake, Huggest said the bridge would still be open for use by emergency vehicles and for security and defence purposes.

“If this is wrong, then I would suggest that we have a bigger problem than that, because every other bridge that has been recently constructed in British Columbia has been designed to that standard.”

Hugget said he did not know what the motive would be for anyone to reduce the design standards of the bridge.

“H&H and MMM are not responsible for the final construction cost of this bridge, they designed it. So it it turns out it costs more money, it’s not their problem. PCL has a contract to built, and they’ll build whatever they’re told to build.”

He said the bridge has been designed to the top Canadian and Californian codes, and beyond that it is not possible to be certain about what is going to happen.

“If it turns out there’s a major earthquake tomorrow morning and those standards are found to be inadequate, there’s not much we can do about that.”

Coun. Ben Isitt proposed a motion that staff report back to council to clarify the seismic performance of the replacement bridge including the Canadian and international design codes and standards and the consistency with information contained in the seismic design report from August 2012.