Victoria begins tendering process for bridge project

City councillors hope competitive bidding process keeps costs from escalating further

After city council gave its blessing to the $15.8-million price hike for the new Johnson Street Bridge, staff wasted no time starting the search for a general contractor to get the work done.

On Friday, it posted a callout to companies interested in being shortlisted for the job, including demolition of the remaining bridge and construction of the new one.

The day before, city council grappled with the new $92.8-million project estimate, up from a previous estimate of $77 million.

While some couldn’t accept the higher price, a majority conceded to the escalation, hoping that a competitive procurement model will bring down costs. Council rejected two options for proceeding that promised possible savings, but left architectural features and even amenities such as bike paths at the discretion of the future contractor.

“When I came into the office today, my position was $77 million and not a penny more,” said Coun. Marianne Alto, at the public meeting. “I still have to say there’s a part of my head and my heart that doesn’t believe that we can’t build a bridge that has these (amenities) for $77 million. I think there’s a lot of people in the city who believe the same thing.”

The importance of staying on course to keep on schedule, however, helped to sway her vote.

At the recommendation of the city’s project director, Mike Lai, council approved what’s called a ‘design-assist’ delivery model.

That means the general contractor, to be hired in October, will build the bridge as designed by the project’s overseer, MMM Group. Council insisted, however, on flexibility to allow the contractor to make alterations to the design – as approved by the city – to save money.

Hiring the best engineering company for the job will be a two-step process.

First, the city will select three proponents from those that apply to their Request for Qualifications, posted online last Friday. Second, the selected teams will be invited to submit proposals.

“The proponents will have the opportunity to have confidential discussions with the city, with the view to explore design optimization from their perspective as builders, to provide further benefits to the city,” said John Haythorne, a Vancouver lawyer with expertise in negotiating infrastructure and construction contracts.

“It’s a way in which we can invite them to contribute their expertise as builders to the whole process.”

Finally, the city will enter into a fixed-price contract with the winning proponent.

Sasha Angus of the Greater Victoria Development Agency expressed confidence in the process.

“We’re encouraged that council has moved forward,” he said. “We think competition is the appropriate way to go … We’re encouraged they’re having multiple vendors take a stab at it.”

Councillors Geoff Young, Lisa Helps and Ben Isitt voted against adjusting the bridge project charter to reflect  new cost estimate.

“I can’t support enlarging the budget,” Isitt said. “I think the time to make the design change is now.”

Coun. Shellie Gudgeon was absent.

Just Posted

Major expansion coming to Royal Bay Secondary

Province will build space for 600 more students on same site

Colwood wins Victoria Flower Count for a five-peat

The 43rd annual Flower Count had over three billion blossoms counted in total

Langford fundraiser for kidney disease is a success

Maureen Hobbs thinks B.C. Transplant says it best: “Live life. Pass it on.”

West Shore municipalities eye mass notification system

System would send out info via text, email or phone call in an emergency

Moving fire dispatch services will save taxpayers thousands, say mayors

Transition will save about $1.5 million over the next five years

Vancouver Island’s Best Videos of the Week

A look at some of the best video stories from the past week ending March 16, 2018

Salmon Arm community cheers on Natalie Wilkie as she wins first gold medal

Local skier tops the podium in 7.5km race at the PyeongChang Paralympics

Experts: Society has a role in trying to prevent domestic violence

Experts are speaking out following the murder of a woman and her son in Ontario

Women’s Expo seeks to empower women

Victoria Women’s Expo set for Saturday and Sunday at Pearkes Recreation Centre

RV David Thompson unveiled in Victoria’s Inner Harbour

Parks Canada research vessel part of billion-dollar environmental investment

Northern lights chasers in Canada discover new type named ‘Steve’

Phenomenon linked to a powerful current created by charged particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere

Progress on fixing Phoenix pay system backlog could be short-lived: Ottawa

Feds have said they won’t try to recover money overpaid until all outstanding issues are fixed

Washington state backs B.C. in pipeline dispute

Governor Jay Inslee says he is ‘allied’ with the province on Trans Mountain expansion projection

Dead rabbits found at Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds stoke concerns about Nanaimo virus

A B.C. wildlife veterinarian says a few of the dead bunnies will be sent for diagnosis next week.

Most Read