LETTER – Fifth Street Bridge numbers don’t add up

Dear editor,

The Fifth Street Bridge Open House put on by the City of Courtenay on Nov. 21 was not as satisfying as it could have been.

I was hoping to learn how the estimated costs of painting the bridge or replacing it were arrived at.

I was told that the paint job price was based on what comparable projects had cost.

It would have been better if the costs were actually broken down.

That is, what would the shrink wrapping cost, what would stripping the paint cost, what would the paint job cost, what other repairs would be required and what would the resurfacing cost.

Then I tried to find out how the cost of $25 – 30 million for a new bridge was arrived at.

It was suggested that comparable projects were looked at.

I have looked at comparable projects. The Dove Creek Bridge project cost $12 million, all in.

The Craigflower Bridge in View Royal (a Victoria suburb) and its new approaches along with upgrades to underground infrastructure cost $15 million (see https://craigflowerbridge.wordpress.com/).

Fourteen million of that came from the Gas Tax Fund.

The Craigflower Bridge is a four-span bridge. The Fifth Street Bridge is a single span.

This adds up to a bridge that is four times as long costing half as much.

More study is required.

Another idea that should be looked at is whether a new bridge could be built off-site. Can the old bridge be lifted out and the new bridge lifted in? If so, how long would that take?

This issue is of incredible importance to the downtown business owners. An extended closure could be disastrous for some.

But the effect will be felt by every citizen of the Comox Valley. It is our downtown. A community without a lively downtown is a sad community.

Think of all the US towns whose downtowns were devastated by the growth of megastores outside their boundaries.

A better look at the idea of replacing the bridge is required.

A final point – This is a Comox Valley bridge, used by everybody in the Valley. Therefore, all taxpayers in the Valley should be responsible for the cost, not just Courtenay taxpayers.

Erik Eriksson

Courtenay

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