The fate of the Johnston Bridge could be decided next week.
Quesnel council will consider four options to fix the aging bridge on May 11, including a staff recommendation for a comprehensive repair to bring the bridge up to a 63,500 kg weight limit for 15-20 years, which would cost as much as $2.5 million.
Other options include leaving the bridge as it is or minimal repairs with a 10-ton limit for 10 years. The low-risk minimal repairs would cost just over $1 million with the high-risk minimal repairs at $400,000.
The report does not say what the exact difference in risk between the two minimal options are, but notes the pricier version would mean lifting the bridge off the pier to complete the repairs, as would the comprehensive repairs.
The four options were narrowed down from a 2018 report with ten options.
A staff report, written by Chris Coben, the city’s director of capital works and infrastructure, noted the repairs would be part of a two-year process with planning/engineering, design, and tendering taking place in one season and the repairs occurring the following construction season.
“The bridge would require full closure while the repairs take place,” Coben wrote. “Planning and engineering in this phase would further detail the cost estimate leading into the construction phase.”
The report noted the bridge girders – the main support beams for the bridge and critical for load transfer to the bearings – continue to deteriorate, reducing the capacity load. However, no damage to the piers due to this has been observed to this point.
City manager Byron Johnson added his support to the report’s recommendation for a comprehensive repair.
“An important principle of emergency management is having redundancy of routing options in the event of sections of Hwy 97 being out of commission, or if Maple Drive becomes unusable,” he writes. “Under this option, Council would still retain the right to limit the allowable load capacity of the bridge for everyday usage.”
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