Gertrude Bridge widening project delayed

The vehicle bridge will be closed for another three weeks.

Contractors continue widening the Gertrude Street bridge on March 1.

Contractors continue widening the Gertrude Street bridge on March 1.

Drivers will have to continue to detour around the Gertrude Street bridge for another three weeks, as the bridge will remain closed.

The bridge widening construction, which has been on the City of Port Alberni’s list of projects since they fall, has been delayed months.

“It’s being delayed because of delays in concrete panel fabrication,” said city engineer Guy Cicon.

Unforeseen design details and the weather are the other two factors behind the delays, he added.

The bridge was originally supposed to stay partially open for the duration of the project but Cicon said that it was both safer and faster if the bridge was fully closed. At the beginning of February, the city announced that it would be closed for three weeks—now that closure is schedule to last over six weeks.

“Part of the original concept was that the bridge would be partially open during construction but it’s much safer for the public and the contractor to have it closed,” said Cicon.

The vehicle bridge over Kitsuksis Creek and walkway is being widened to allow for bike lanes on either side of the bridge. The work is being done at a cost $347,000—up from the original $249,500 winning bid by K&G Installations. The extra costs were incurred due to forced relocation of a Fortis BC gas line and extra work on the bridge underside.

“The existing substructure itself is sound but there isn’t enough strength or capacity in the substructure to make the road really wide—we’re widening the road a little bit,” Cicon told city council in December.

“That will accommodate cycling lanes on each side but pedestrians we’re guiding down to the new foot bridge that we put in just upstream last year. We’ve got an interesting combination there.”

The foot bridge was installed in 2014 at a cost of $152,000.

Widening the vehicle bridge will involve both surface and substructure work, city streets superintendent Wilf Taekema said in October.

“The existing sidewalks that are on there—and they’re raised above the roadway—those will be removed,” said Taekema.

They’ll be replaced with “pre-cast concrete deck supported by girders underneath.”

“A four-foot concrete guard rail will separate the bicycle path from the vehicles,” added Taekema.

A steel fence will separate the outside of the bike lane from the river below.

The bike lane will be 1.9 metres as per provincial regulations; that opposed to the current 1.5 metre sidewalk.

The work done on the bridge will also encompass the bridge’s underside.

“There’s quite a bit of woodwork and steel work that has to be done,” Taekema said.

Cicon said that any work identified outside of the original contract would result in increased costs for the city.

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