Cantilevers are being proposed for repairs to the 5th Street Bridge. File photo

Courtenay council to discuss bridge cantilevers at its next meeting

At its next meeting, Courtenay council will revisit the idea of including cantilevers in the 5th Street Bridge repairs.

Consultants presented council with updated information about rehab options, Monday at committee of the whole. Because Doug Hillian had to leave early, council deferred a decision to its next regular meeting, Feb. 3.

Cantilevers will add about $2 million to an estimated $6.3 million to recoat and renew the bridge deck, and will increase the construction period from six to eight months. Last year, council voted 5-2 in favour of cantilevers. Hillian and Manno Theos were opposed, favouring instead the recommended $6.3 million, and to explore options for a 6th Street pedestrian/bike bridge.

READ: Merchants question wisdom of bridge decision

The three-metre wide cantilevers are intended to prevent cyclists from sharing the roadway with vehicles, and to provide more space for all users.

The project design offers exit options for pedestrians and cyclists. On the downtown side of the bridge, a new crossing and curb ramp is proposed for westbound cyclists. A curb ramp would also allow eastbound cyclists access via the bus stop.

Coun. David Frisch asked about the possibility of improving the design for cyclists.

“If there’s a desire to transition more smoothly on both sides, I’m pretty confident that could be done,” said Dan Casey of Urban Systems.

Coun. Will Cole-Hamilton noted the tight space for cyclists to continue up 5th.

“Is it possible to have a flow of cyclists coming off the cantilevers and onto 5th Street?” he asked.

“It would be challenging design-wise,” Casey said.

Hillian has difficulty visualizing connectivity for commuters. Without detailed design specs for entering and exiting the bridge, he questions if “we’re getting cyclists off the main roadway.”

Chris Davidson, manager of engineering projects, said the design is only at the concept level. For now, the City hesitates to proceed further into a detailed design, unless there’s an appetite to do so.

The City will receive $1.96 million in federal funding that requires rehabilitation of the bridge by March 31, 2022. Construction is planned for 2021. Traffic would be single-lane alternating during construction.

Through meetings, a survey and an open house, the City has consulted with the public, which expressed interest in improving pedestrian and cycling connections. However, there is much debate about how/where to best improve amenities. Many respondents would like

an investment made into increasing the capacity for vehicles crossing the river. Several were relieved the bridge would remain open to traffic. Most respondents said they would take an alternate route during construction.

Project updates are available at

Consultants also presented options for a Sixth Street Multi-Use Bridge to provide a connection between downtown and Simms Park, and to a future cycling network along Sixth Street, Anderton Avenue, the Courtenay Riverway Trail and the pathway connection to the Lewis Centre.

The proposed span is 60 metres. The recommended minimum width would be 3.5 metres. Urban Systems is targeting a four per cent grade.

Bridge options include a pre-engineering pedestrian truss bridge (bowstring), with an estimated cost of $3-$3.1 million, a modular panel ($3.2-$3.335 million), a network arch ($3.75-$3.95 million) and cable stayed ($3.9-$4.1 million). An evaluation scored the bowstring highest in terms of construction, esthetic value, pedestrian/cyclist comfort, environmental impact, capital cost and lifecycle considerations.

“I sense that we need both of these projects to go ahead at some point,” Frisch said.

If staff is directed by council to proceed, Davidson said design of the 6th Street crossing would likely happen next year, and construction in 2022.

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