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Johnson Street Brige replacement won't be redesigned to allow for rail

Feb 17 2012
Monday: View of the Johnson Street Bridge from the Promontory condominium site in Victoria 

Monday: View of the Johnson Street Bridge from the Promontory condominium site in Victoria

Photograph by: Darren Stone , timescolonist.com

Victoria councillors have decided against redesigning the Johnson Street Bridge project to accommodate future commuter rail.

Coun. Ben Isitt wanted the council to direct staff to prepare a request for tenders for a design-build contract for a new Johnson Street Bridge.

The new bridge would not only incorporate existing project features, such as a multi-use cycling and pedestrian trail, three vehicle lanes and a movable bridge deck built to lifeline seismic standards, but it would also be built to standards to accommodate commuter rail in the future.

While Isitt was supported in the move by fellow rookie councillors Shellie Gudgeon and Lisa Helps, the balance of the council voted against the suggestion.

Mayor Dean Fortin said the risks were simply too high to go back to redesign.

“There’s risks of [losing] federal funding, risks of not getting completed in time, risks of, frankly, having the old bridge closed [for safety reasons] before we get the new one built,” Fortin said.

“Those are risks for our downtown and we do know that economic development studies had said the closure of that bridge for a year would have a minimum

$16-million impact on our downtown.”

The previous council, in a move designed to shave about $12 million from the bridge replacement costs, decided to eliminate the rail crossing in the bridge project.

The council protected a right-of-way for the addition of a separate rail bridge in the future, should the need arise and outside funding become available, while acknowledging the costs of adding a rail bridge later would be drastically higher — perhaps as much as $36 million.

Isitt had argued the city should build one major infrastructure rather than two.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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