Background

Construction of a new bridge for downtown Victoria began in May 2013. It is the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the City of Victoria.

The existing Johnson Street Bridge provides an important transportation connection into Victoria’s central business, entertainment, and tourism districts. It connects the growing residential area of Victoria West and neighbouring municipalities of Esquimalt, View Royal, Saanich, Colwood, and Langford with Victoria’s downtown core.

With approximately 30,000 crossings taking place each day, including vehicles, local transit, pedestrians and cyclists, the Johnson Street Bridge is one of the busiest and most important transportation routes in the area. On average, more than 4,000 pedestrians and 3,000 cyclists use the bridge to access Victoria’s downtown each weekday.

Located over a federal waterway, the existing bascule lift bridge also serves the marine industry, commercial vessels and recreational marine users by providing access through the marine channel below.

The new bridge will be the fourth bridge crossing built at its location.

Johnson Street Bridge Replacement Decision

A 2009 assessment of the Johnson Street 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.

Victoria City 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 build a new bridge. In November 2010, a referendum was held and citizens approved the City of Victoria borrowing of up to $49.2 million towards the replacement of the Johnson Street Bridge.

Costs and Funding

PCL Constructors Westcoast has a fixed-price 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, as well as 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.

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.

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.

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