Craigflower Bridge will be well into its 80th year of service when Saanich begins its replacement project, now slated for the summer of 2013.
While the original timeline for joint Saanich-View Royal project was to have work start this summer and running into the fall, municipal engineers were forced to put the project on hold while they awaited federal environmental and archaeological permits.
Initially there was talk about construction potentially running from the winter through to spring, but those plans were scrapped due to the holidays.
“We heard a lot of feedback from local businesses that the loss of (access during) the Christmas shopping would be devastating,” said Jim Hemstock, Saanich’s manager of transportation. “And it also didn’t give us summer holidays, looking after getting the school kids back and forth. Those two were good reasons to go with the summer schedule.”
While Hemstock anticipates the permits will be issued in August, he says the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will have the final say on when construction can take place.
“We’re expecting it to be June 1, 2013. It could be slightly different, but I believe that going to be the window they’ll give us,” he said. “By June 1 the herring have finished their run and the salmon don’t start until Sept. 15. That’s what drives the window”
Engineers are currently completing the final design of the bridge, and Hemstock says they’ll be pre-qualifying contractors in the fall, to send the project to tender in February.
“We’re thinking we’re going to give the folks a long time to work on their bid – hopefully that will lead to better pricing,” he said.
The $10.7-million Craigflower Bridge reconstruction project is funded mostly by federal gas tax cash ($10 million). Saanich will cover 60 per cent of the remaining bill, and View Royal will cover the rest.
The existing narrow, two-lane bridge is 79 years old. It’s slated to be replaced by a three-lane bridge, complete with bike lanes and wide sidewalks.
Saanich will also simultaneously replace sewer infrastructure along Gorge Road, between Admirals and Tillicum roads, during the bridge construction. That would require Gorge Road to be shut down completely, too, during that time.