Bridge Price $105.6 Million, and Rising

The new Johnson Street Bridge opened to traffic on March 31, 2018. But that doesn’t mean the end of our paying for it.

In June of 2018, the principal bridge contractor PCL launched a lawsuit against the City of Victoria and its consultant engineers WSP, and Hardesty & Hanover, claiming unspecificed damages for debt, breach of contract, and negligence. (Read PCL’s notice of claim HERE.)

This is atop a separate lawsuit by WSP against the City, filed earlier in 2018, claiming the City failed to pay it some $300,000 for designing protective fendering for the north side of the bridge. (Read WSP’s notice of claim here.)

As a result, the City is likely heading into more costly legal mediation — even though the City already paid $2.46 million under a May 2016 agreement that supposedly settled all claims up to that point. (See the City’s response to our FOI request to see the 2016 settlement agreement here.)

We also haven’t heard about the costs of the fendering itself, which bridge project director Jonathan Huggett has said in the past would be as much as $5 million. City staff have said it will cost some $3 million to complete the public spaces around the bridge. And then there are the ongoing problems with the hydraulics of the bridge’s unique lift mechanism: the bridge was closed for emergency repairs in June of 2019, and has only been operating at half-speed ever since then.

What will final cost be? Nobody knows … and nobody will get to the bottom of it until the province’s Auditor General for Local Government conducts an investigation, which we called for in February 2018, and Victoria’s council approved in September that year.

As Yogi Berra famously said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

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Ross Crockford, director
Telephone: 250 592 0574
Email: rosscrockford(AT)

How did we get here? Read the key bridge reports:
• Delcan’s April 2009 Johnson Street Bridge Condition Assessment, estimating rehabilitation and seismic upgrades to the 1924-built bridge for $23.6 million
• Commonwealth Historic Resource Management’s April 2009 Heritage Assessment of the Johnson Street Bridge identifying the 1924 bridge as a “very significant heritage landmark”
• MMM’s June 2010 Replacement and Rehabilitation Options presentation, increasing rehabilitation estimates to $80 million and replacement to $77 million
• Advicas Group's June 2010 Class “C” Estimates detailing the increased replacement and rehabilitation costs
• Ipsos-Reid’s August 2010 Business and Residential Survey Results on the proposed rehabilitation and replacement options
• MMM’s March 2012 Johnson Street Bridge Project Update detailing the increased budget of $92.8 million
• The proposals by PCL, Kiewit, and Walsh to build the new bridge (the latter two warned of risks caused by the unusual mechanical design), and the City's contract with PCL

• Jonathan Huggett’s June 2014 Review of the Johnson Street Bridge Project examining its leadership problems, delays, design issues, and contractual liabilities

Founded by Mat Wright, Ross Crockford, and Yule Heibel in the summer of 2009, we started out as a website providing independent information about the City of Victoria’s rush to replace the Johnson Street Bridge — the most expensive project in the City’s history. In December of 2009, we led a campaign that got 9,872 residents to sign petitions, forcing the City to hold a referendum on the project; a majority of voters approved the bridge replacement in a referendum in November 2010. Since then, we’ve continued to monitor the project, file freedom-of-information requests, advocate for greater transparency at City Hall, and report upon the project’s achievements, errors, and costs.