Bridge costs continue to ramp up

Masha Scheele

Council discussed concerns over the estimated cost of ramp access to the Maxwell Lake bridge at the June 18 standing committee after hearing from administration that costs could escalate more than fifty percent of the original budgeted amount of $400,000.

Coun. Albert Ostashek stated that during the verbal report at the previous regular meeting, it was indicated that the cost between pedestrian access and vehicle access wasn’t going to be significant.

Actual numbers attached to the access ramps weren’t included in the verbal report at the June 11 meeting, but later were sent to council in a written summary. According to that summary, the cost estimate for bridge access is between $225,000 and $275,000.

“If the option is to spend $250,000 more to build the ramps, well then maybe it’s more economical to take the bridge out and maybe not have that access through the middle of the wetland or maybe come up with something that is pedestrian only and much less grand in its scope,” said Ostashek.

ISL Engineering is working on two class D estimates regarding the ramps to the Maxwell Lake bridge on their own dime.

A class D estimate is prepared when a project is at the conceptual design stage.

One estimate is for pedestrian ramps while the other estimate is for vehicular ramps, but council asked administration to put a stop to the work with ISL regarding the bridge and report back to council with ramp options including high level costs.

The issue was brought forth by Coun. Dewly Nelson who felt it was irresponsible to have ISL work on the estimates if council isn’t sure about continuing with those estimates.

“It was communicated to us verbally and in writing that ISL was bearing the costs of the two class D estimates. Anything they’re bearing the cost for, I want to ensure that it goes towards what we may realistically be able to do. If we don’t utilize the reports they are creating at their cost once its presented to us, we will then have to go back and we will have to bear those costs for the other options,” said Nelson.

Installation of the bridge and complications with the wetland interface made the project much more complex, stated Coun. Ryan Maguhn.

“There’s a lot of reasonable pressure from the public to take a very close look at this project which I think is spiralling at least politically and financially out of control. I think it’s something we need to get our finger on, it’s very frustrating to see what’s happening with it and some of the numbers we’re beginning to see. 

“I don’t want to be melodramatic but I also don’t want to underreact to the situation where we’re getting cost estimates to solutions that we know just aren’t viable,” said Maguhn.

Ostashek added that he would like the report with options to indicate the cost of removing the bridge.

Along with the cost of removal, Maguhn said information should be included with the option to sell the bridge or use it in the community to replace another bridge.

The report with further options will come back before the end of August, in the meantime temporary staircases will be installed leading up to the bridge.

“Allowing more time to allow for better information will lead to a better decision hopefully in August,” said Coun. Tyler Waugh.