FAQs

Construction and Project Management

What stage is the project at right now?

Crews are currently building the foundation of the new bridge. This work will continue in the harbour throughout 2014. Crews are also creating a new four-way intersection at Harbour and Esquimalt Roads. The new intersection will open to traffic in October.

Who is building the new bridge?

PCL Constructors Westcoast was awarded the contract to build the new bridge for $62.9 million. PCL has hired many Island companies to be a part of the construction team including Construction Drilling Inc, Don Mann Excavating, Focus Surveying, Harris Rebar, Hemmera, Island Traffic Services, Ruskin Construction, Salish Sea Industrial, and United Engineering.

The firm selected by PCL for fabricating the bascule leaf is ZTSS Bridge located northwest of Shanghai in China.

PCL’s contract includes decommissioning of the old bridge once the new bridge is complete, new road alignments on both sides of the bridge, widened sidewalks and pathways, and construction of public plazas areas on the east and west sides. In addition, PCL will also construct a retaining wall on the City’s adjacent property on Harbour Road.

Will there be job opportunities as a result of this project?

PCL Constructors Westcoast is responsible for securing all trades and subcontractors to build the new bridge. They have hired several local sub-contractors and suppliers. Please contact PCL Constructors Westcoast directly if you are interested in working on the project.

Based on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ calculation for short-term job creation per million dollars of infrastructure investment, about 900 short-term jobs are expected as a result of this project. The Urban Development Institute believes the new bridge will encourage and strengthen development opportunities estimated to be in excess of half a billion dollars in Victoria West and downtown Victoria.

What is MMM Group’s role in the project?

In order to undertake a project of this magnitude and complexity, the City retained MMM Group to provide the engineering services for design and project management of the work through to completion. The MMM Group is a large Canadian engineering firm with experience and expertise in moveable bridges.

Will the bridge close during construction? How will I get across?

The existing bridge will remain open to pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles throughout construction. Crews will be building the new bridge to the north of the existing bridge, allowing the bridge to remain open until the new bridge is complete and open to traffic in 2016. Some impacts such as traffic delays and detours may be unavoidable at times.

How will neighbours be impacted by construction?

Crews will make every effort to minimize impacts during construction. Some impacts such as noise, traffic delays, or detours will be unavoidable at times. Every effort will be made to provide advance notice whenever possible. 

The City of Victoria is committed to keeping residents, businesses, and bridge users informed throughout the project. Please contact us if you have a question or concern related to construction at johnsonstreetbridge@victoria.ca or call 250.361.0545.

Will marine vessels be able to access the Upper Harbour during construction?

Access for marine vessels will be maintained throughout construction. Temporary closures may occur from time to time to allow for construction activity. For more information on marine access, visit the marine travel information page. The new bridge will include an improved navigation channel of 41 metres in accordance with current regulations.

What aspects of the project is the City responsible for?

The City of Victoria will oversee the project to ensure that the contracts are delivered according to their terms and that citizens receive best value for the project. The City is also responsible for the relocation of City services and utilities, management and removal of any contaminated soil, and archeological and geotechnical mitigation and management. The City will provide regular information updates to keep the public and Council informed through to project completion.

What about historical or archeological findings?

Victoria has a rich multicultural history and the bridge is located in a historically significant area. Archaeologists along with representatives of Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations are on site during any excavation activity and will continue to be involved until project completion.

Artifacts and materials reflective of human activity dating back to the mid-1800s to present day have been recovered throughout the project in various locations. Each is documented and catalogued with the provincial Archaeological Branch and will eventually be provided to the Royal BC Museum. While the project is located in an area of cultural significance, it has also experienced land disturbance over the years as a result of past development activities, meaning the location of artifacts recovered provide limited interpretive value.

What about contaminated soil?

Years ago the harbour area around the bridge was home to heavy industry. Contaminated soil does exist around the bridge. The City and PCL Constructors Westcoast have been working with an environmental monitor to ensure the environment and marine life remain protected throughout construction. Any contaminated soil will be dealt with in accordance with regulations.

Why are we replacing the bridge?

A 2009 assessment of the bridge identified many issues common to other bridges built in the 1920s: extensive corrosion to steel structural beams and obsolete mechanical and electrical systems. The assessment also noted significant seismic vulnerability. It was determined that a substantial investment in the bridge would be required to avoid further deterioration, increasing operational costs, and possible closure.

Council considered many factors important to the community when determining the bridge’s future. These included safety concerns of the current bridge, heritage values, traffic and business disruptions, and accessibility needs for pedestrians and cyclists. After extensive public consultation, City Council decided to replace the Johnson Street Bridge.

For more information, visit the Project Background page.

Funding and Costs

What will it cost to replace the bridge? Who is paying for it?

PCL Constructors Westcoast has a contract with the City to build the new bridge for $62.9 million. The overall budget for the replacement of the Johnson Street Bridge is $92.8 million. Additional costs include project management and engineering design, insurance, permitting, legal, communications, and administrative support.

The Government of Canada is providing up to $37.5 million in funding towards the project, including $21 million from the Building Canada Fund and $16.5 million through Canada’s Gas Tax Fund. The Government of Canada has also provided a $10.2 million low-cost infrastructure loan through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Municipal Infrastructure Lending Program. The remaining bridge replacement costs are funded by the City of Victoria through reallocated capital budgets and electoral-approved borrowing.

What affect will this project have on my taxes?

As a result of significant federal contribution and reprioritizing other City budgetary expenditures there will be no tax increase to Victoria taxpayers related to the Johnson Street Bridge Replacement Project.

What is the Building Canada Fund?

The Building Canada Fund is a Federal Government infrastructure program. The Major Infrastructure Components portion of this fund targets larger projects of regional significance. The fund also focuses on projects in communities with populations of less than 100,000.

This is the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the City. Is there an independent auditor overseeing the project?

As part of the contribution agreement with the federal government for the Building Canada Fund, the City of Victoria must complete both financial and compliance audits over the course of the project. These audits are to be submitted directly to the federal government for review. The audits to be completed include:

  • Five annual financial audits over the course of the project
  • Two compliance audits over the course of the project

As per the City’s contribution agreement with the Federal government, the City will also produce an annual report to report on project progress and expenditures. The reports and audits completed to date can be found on the Documents and Publications page.

New Bridge

What colour is the new bridge?

The new bridge will be painted light grey. It will be lit with blue architectural lighting at night.

When will the new bridge be open?

The new bridge is expected to open in 2016.

What will be included in the new bridge?

The new bridge will be built to serve the community for the next 100 years. It will provide improved safety and accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists with more than 50 per cent of the new bridge dedicated to sustainable modes of transportation. For more information, visit the Design and Amenities page.

What does the new bridge look like? Is it different from the original design?

The design and amenities of the bridge are consistent with the plans presented during the 2010 referendum. Although the engineered design has been optimized, it has had minimal effect on the aesthetic or architectural design.

Will the new bridge be quieter than the existing one?

The road surface of the new bridge will be finished with a material similar to asphalt.  It will be quieter than the existing bridge’s open steel grating.

What does 100 year service life mean? What about operating and maintenance over time?

The bascule bridge, piers, and foundation are being built to serve the community for the next 100 years. This includes the multi-use trail, cycling lanes and pedestrian walkway. 

The bridge will be built to a lifeline seismic standard, which means it would be able to withstand an 8.5 magnitude earthquake.  In the event of a significant earthquake, it means it will continue to serve as a lifeline transportation route for emergency vehicles (fire, police, ambulance) and city services such as utilities, road crews, and public transit. This is the highest standard in the current bridge design code for Canada.

Just as a car ages over time and requires regular checkups and servicing, regular inspection and maintenance will be required and any operating parts of the bridge will be replaced as needed to ensure it continues to be safe and functional for the community. An annual maintenance budget will be established for servicing the bridge.

Why is rail not included in the new bridge?

When Victoria citizens were surveyed about the Johnson Street Bridge, they ranked rail as the least important in comparison with other elements, and costs were ranked as the most important. In 2010, Council made a decision to not borrow funds for rail on the new bridge. Removing rail from the new bridge design reduced the overall costs of replacing the bridge by $12 million. The City of Victoria will continue to preserve the rail corridor through the Official Community Plan. If funding is made available, a separate rail bridge can still be added at a later date.

Travel Information

Will the bridge close during construction? How will I get across?

The existing bridge will remain open to pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles throughout construction. Crews will be building the new bridge to the north of the existing bridge, allowing the bridge to remain open until the new bridge is complete and open to traffic in 2016. Some impacts such as traffic delays and detours may be unavoidable at times.

Will marine vessels be able to access the Upper Harbour during construction?

Access for marine vessels will be maintained throughout construction. Temporary closures may occur from time to time to allow for construction activity. For more information on marine access, visit the marine travel information page. The new bridge will include an improved navigation channel of 41 metres in accordance with current regulations.

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