Craigflower Bridge construction delayed until 2013

Environmental, archaeological permits still needed before builders can be hired

Plans to build the new Craigflower Bridge have been put on hold untill next year, after municipal engineers couldn’t achieve everything required in the tight timeframe they had.

Jim Hemstock, Saanich’s manager of transportation, said the initial plan to begin construction on June 1 was aggressive. Now it’s considered unachievable.

“There are environmental and archaeological processes (still outstanding) that are long and complicated,” he said.

Last week, staff decided the project would be delayed by either six months or one year.

“We’re still considering the pros and cons of summer and winter building,” Hemstock said. “We know that the two big drivers that effect the public would be Christmas shopping and getting kids to school.”

From the engineering side of things, however, the delays are more complicated.

Saanich and View Royal share responsibility for the bridge. Both municipalities need to ensure construction doesn’t impact the salmon or herons that call the Gorge Waterway home.

Archaeologically, two different permits are required to build on the sensitive lands near the historic Craigflower schoolhouse on the Saanich side, a former native burial ground.

“We don’t have the permits. … Putting (the project out for tenders) now, not knowing if you can proceed is not a fiscally responsible things to do,” Mayor Frank Leonard said. “Uncertainty usually leads to higher prices. … It’s better we spend taxpayers’ money wisely and do it a bit later, than rush to get it done.”

An announcement on whether bridge construction will begin in January 2013 or July 2013 isn’t expected to be made until August.

The $10.7-million Craigflower Bridge reconstruction project is funded mostly by federal gas tax money. The existing narrow, two-lane bridge is 79 year old. It’s slated to be replaced by a three-lane bridge, complete with bike lanes and wide sidewalks.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

 

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