Victoria mayor defends Johnson Street Bridge project

Engineer William Doyle releases report stating the true cost of the bridge would be between $104 million and $110 million

Nothing was hidden from the public and costs will remain the same, says Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin, in response to a report purporting major cost overruns on the Johnson Street Bridge project.

Engineer William Doyle released a report Wednesday stating the true cost of the bridge would be between $104 million and $110 million, as opposed to the current $92.8 million budget.

Doyle formulated the report based solely on publicly available information from victoria.ca and johnsonstreetbridge.com.

“This has been the most publicly reported project we’ve ever had,” said Fortin.

A few weeks before the report came out, Doyle approached mayoral candidate Ida Chong to provide her with his summary findings about the cost of the bridge. According to both Chong and Doyle, Doyle was not commissioned to write the report and was not paid for it.

Doyle moved to B.C. less than six months ago and is a Langford resident. He is ineligible to vote in the Victoria civic election.

“As the campaign was underway, it started to irritate me that the available information and the final figure for the project were still not being discussed,” said Doyle.

Fortin said Doyle’s numbers are based on a request from the contractor, PCL Constructor Westcoast Inc., for an additional $7.8 million, which was rejected by the city.

“It’s assuming that everything that’s been asked for is valid and is our responsibility to pay,” Fortin said. “[Doyle] is making a lot of assumptions.”

He said any increased costs will not be borne by the city or its residents.

“Whether the cost of concrete goes up or goes down, that’s the responsibility of the contractor. Whether the cost of steel goes up or down, that’s the responsibility of the contractor, said Fortin. “The budget remains the same, the cost to local residents remains the same.”

However, Victoria mayoral candidate Stephen Andrew does not think Fortin is being completely up front with the public and added that Doyle’s report come to no surprise to him.

“We’ve known for a long time this would be over budget. [Fortin] is running to save his job, and he knows he’s vulnerable on the bridge.”

The new Johnson Street Bridge is expected to be completed by early 2016.

The civic election is Nov. 15.

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