Built in 1960, the 5th Street Bridge will be upgraded next year. File photo

Built in 1960, the 5th Street Bridge will be upgraded next year. File photo

Rehabilitation of Courtenay bridge on track to begin next spring

AAP slated for fall

Despite some delays caused by the COVID pandemic, preparations for upgrading the 5th Street Bridge remain on track to meet the original deadlines. A six-month construction period is expected to begin in April, 2021.

The project is estimated to cost $6.3 million. An Alternate Approval Process to obtain elector assent for a borrowing bylaw is scheduled for this fall.

The City has received a federal/provincial grant worth $1.96 million. The borrowing amount is $3.4 million.

“What that means for the average residential property is $13 per year, and for the average commercial property is $82,” Katie Hamilton of Tavola Strategy Group said in a Sept. 8 presentation to Courtenay council.

Built in 1960, the 72-metre steel truss bridge contains two vehicle lanes and 1.5-metre sidewalks on both sides.

In February, council reversed its original decision and chose not to include cantilevers in the rehab process.

READ: Courtenay council votes down cantilever option for Fifth Street Bridge

A single lane alternating traffic pattern is the preferred option during construction, according to a traffic management study. Due to scaffolding, vehicles taller than 3.6 metres will have to use an alternate route to cross the bridge. Pedestrian and cyclist travel will continue in protected lanes, and access to Lewis and Simms parks will be maintained. The parking lots could be used as a park-and-ride or park-and-walk/bike location.

Feedback from residents and organizations indicate the main concerns during construction are to reduce congestion, maintain access for all modes of travel, and maintain priority access for emergency vehicles, transit and school buses. Consultants have identified various measures to alleviate some of these concerns. For instance, a planned queue-jumper lane on Anderton Avenue will enable priority vehicles to reach the front of the line for the bridge.

“This is definitely going to have an impact on vehicle travel in the Comox Valley next summer,” said Chris Davidson, the City’s interim director of engineering services. “It’s unfortunate — essentially trying to make the best of a bad situation.”