Quesnel city council took a deep dive into Johnston Bridge during a May 11 special meeting, discussing the aging bridge for over an hour.
City staff wanted further direction on what council wanted as the future of the bridge, giving them four options to choose from for a detailed study. Council gave them the direction they were looking for by selecting the most comprehensive option available.
The report was written by Chris Coben, the city of Quesnel’s director of infrastructure. In his report, the price for the comprehensive option was listed as between $2 and $2.5 million, and would extend the life of the bridge for 15 years.
The project would include new bearings, one of the main reasons repairs are required on the aging bridge.
Coben acknowledged the $2.5 million price tag is likely much lower than what the project will actually cost, as the estimate does not take into account moving the utilities which cross the bridge. To complete repairs, the bridge top would need to be removed from the piers.
City manager Byron Johnston said the goal with this latest round of reports is to get a project ready for bids. Staff will return with a detailed price tag for that report, which could be as much as $500,000.
“We look at the detailed engineering, the all-in cost, the timing, the logistics, just figure out what that game plan is to make that happen,” Johnston said. “That price tag will exist whenever we do this project, we need to figure this stuff out.”
The comprehensive option also included bringing the allowable load on the bridge up to its original 63,500 kilograms, and council wants the report to answer whether keeping the load restriction to 10,000 kgs would extend the lifespan of the repairs.
Much of the discussion was centred around what the load limit should be on the bridge, and what its impact will be on traffic flows, but council decided table that discussion until the more detailed report is in their hands.
Johnston acknowledged there would be pressure to expand the capacity, but it’s ultimately up to council to decide the limit, advocating for the most comprehensive repairs.
“The net result of (proper repairs) will be a 63,500 (kgs capacity) bridge,” he said. “It’s not because we’re doing it to bring it up to (63,500 kgs), it’s because we’re doing it to fix the bridge to a professional level of repair.”
Council asked staff to include a request to see if smaller repairs only bringing the load restriction to 10,000 would be possible in the report.
A 2018 estimate put the costs of building a replacement bridge at over $10 million.