From the Coquitlam Now - I didn't know it was a cable-stayed span - should look good if it gets built.
PoCo cable bridge $33 million over estimate
Simone Blais, Coquitlam NOW
Published: Wednesday, December 05, 2007
A cable bridge over the CN Rail yard to Coast Meridian Road -- pegged as the solution to Port Coquitlam's transportation woes -- is now $33.3 million over cost projections made just one year ago.
Coun. Michael Wright said Monday he wasn't "hugely surprised" to see that the cost of the $98.7-million overpass project had risen to $132 million, given how many infrastructure projects have come in over budget and initial estimates throughout Metro Vancouver.
"We know that the construction climate at the moment is extremely busy. We know the materials and labour have both increased," he said, adding that some people have wondered whether it would be better to hold off on the project until after the 2010 Olympics -- thought to be fuelling the Greater Vancouver boom.
Design concept for the cable bridge over the CN Rail yard to Coast Meridian Road.
It's not a good time to build, but then I can't see that any time in the future will be any better," he said.
The city announced Friday that SNC-Lavalin Constructors (Pacific) Inc. submitted the preferred bid after a request-for-proposals process.
The $132-million cost of the four-lane overpass includes construction, land acquisitions, CP Rail access, utility relocation, engineering, legal services and contingencies.
The city noted in its announcement that the design-build contract will fix the price of construction, including inflation and, therefore, it doesn't anticipate changes to the $132-million figure.
TransLink has already pledged $60 million to the project, about 45 per cent of the total cost.
The city is picking up the remainder with other grants ($5 million), land sale reserves ($21.2 million), other reserves ($9 million), major transportation reserves ($3.4 million) and fees from developers ($27.2 million) -- but that still leaves the city $6.2 million short.
Wright said one option for covering the shortfall is going into debt -- a paradigm shift for the city, which has prided itself on being debt-free for many years.
"We've not had external debt for a long time, a number of years," he said. "We do borrow money, we borrow it from ourselves and then pay it back to ourselves.
"But this is going outside, it's a big step. I'm sure there will be people who will not be in favour of the city going out to borrow money on the public market."
Coun. Greg Moore said Monday that he views borrowing money for the overpass much like a homeowner would view a mortgage.
"You don't save up enough money to buy the entire house," he said. "This is a major purchase for the city.
"If we were going to borrow money to upgrade a couple of roads, then I would be totally against it. But this is probably the biggest project we'll see in my lifetime."
Choosing the preferred bid hinges not only on cost, but the design of the structure.
A cable-stayed bridge system has been chosen for the overpass, which engineering director Igor Zahynacz said Monday would be easy on the city's pocketbook, but also on the eyes.
"It's very much similar to the Alex Fraser Bridge, where there are towers that support cables," he said, adding that the overpass would also be similar to the Lions Gate Bridge.
"There's the towers that support cables. The theory there is the cables give additional support to the bridge deck, and the bridge deck then doesn't have to be such a deep structure because it can be lighter weight."
If the bridge deck is shallower, Zahynacz said, less concrete and steel would be required -- and they are expensive commodities during the construction boom.
"It has a little bit more esthetic, because it's not a deep steel structure," he added.
Whether or not residents prefer the design and costs, however, will be more accurately gauged during Thursday's meeting.
More information about the design-build contractor and process will be provided at the public meeting, set for 7 p.m. in the gymnasium of the Hyde Creek Recreation Centre, at 1379 Laurier Ave. Information about the project design will be offered, and a question-and-answer period will follow.
Moore said he's looking forward to hearing the different reactions from PoCo residents.
"We need to deal with the traffic related to other communities and the growth around us. We have to get 25,000 people off of Burke Mountain, then how are they going to get off that hill? Somebody has to come up with that alternative, which is better and cheaper than the Coast Meridian overpass," he said. "We've done our studies, and believe this is the best solution for us.
"I hope people come out with their concerns and ideas (on Thursday), and some people say that they're in favour of this, that (we) do have the mandate to go forward on this."
© Coquitlam Now 2007