Costs for Gertrude Street bridge escalate

The cost of the two bridges spanning Kitsuksis Creek at Gertrude Street has risen to half a million dollars.

Work on widening the Gertrude Street vehicle bridge will continue into the new year.

Work on widening the Gertrude Street vehicle bridge will continue into the new year.

The cost of the two bridges spanning Kitsuksis Creek at Gertrude Street has risen to half a million dollars.

City engineer Guy Cicon was up in front of council on Monday night to ask for an extra $97,000 to widen the vehicle bridge—the cost of which has now risen to $347,000. The pedestrian bridge was completed in 2014 and cost $152,000.

“If I had to do it again, I would have estimated the cost of the work to be much more,” Cicon told council.

“It was a project that we wanted to get in front of council as early as 2013 so we did put a number to it—and that number was low.”

Cicon had already been up in front of council at the Oct. 26 meeting to due to his miscalculation on which funds had been allocated and which had not been. Council at that time voted to cover the $77,000 shortfall.

“The biggest surprise was the Fortis Gas relocation,” said Cicon.

“Fortis Gas came in late into the assessment and suggested that they should relocate the gas line to the other half of the bridge at a cost of $80,000. We had a hard time with that and worked really hard to reduce that cost.” Cicon said that the gas line will be kept on the same side of the bridge that it is currently but that work on the gas line will still cost $50,000 “that wasn’t anticipated.”

The rest of Cicon’s $97,000 request will go towards work on the bridge structure itself: $24,000 will go towards the addition of abutment channels and replacement of deteriorating ballast wall timbers; $5,500 will go towards rebar epoxy coating and $2,750 will go towards revised pier timber support for girders.

The tender was awarded to K&G Installations at a cost of $249,500 at the Oct. 13 council meeting. The contractor was the low bidder on the project, leading Coun. Dan Washington to ask Cicon if perhaps the more expensive contractors knew something that K&G Installations did not.

“The problems that have been identified for extra work I think would have been identified by all the parties,” said Cicon.

The city engineer was challenged on why he was asking for extra funds—and whether costs would continue to escalate.

“This is the second time that we’ve needed more money for this project and this time we’re taking it from storm mains, which we always identify as a problem,” said Coun. Jack McLeman. The extra $97,000 is being taken from the leftover capital storm main budget.

“I’m just wondering why are we always paying extra?”

Cicon said that the items needing extra work were hard to identify at the beginning of the project—and that he couldn’t guarantee that more extra costs wouldn’t rise.

“These projects are expensive… if it’s going to be a significant amount [more] then I’ll be in front of you again.”

Speaking the next day, Cicon said that there’s currently no liability for either the engineering firm used to come up with the project nor the contracto until the project is finished.

“We’re not blaming the structural engineer by any means,” Cicon said.

“For a renovation project, all items aren’t known at the time. Should they be identified? Well the more they are, the more secure your costs are… but the fact is that everything isn’t obvious at the time. You take that risk.”

However, Cicon said that if something goes wrong with the bridge after the work is complete, whoever is liable will be held accountable.

“If there is negligence, there will be accountability.”

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