The big news around town this past week – at least for those concerned with Victoria’s climbing infrastructure costs in the midst of budgeting season – was the $15.7 million increase in the estimate for the Johnson Street Bridge replacement.

At Governance and Priorities Committee on Thursday, Council voted to move forward with a bridge procurement process that would seek three qualified teams to compete in a process to build the bridge that reflects the current design and to bring the project in on time and on budget. It was further resolved that staff report to Council in June 2012 as to whether there are significant cost or design deviations. This last bit of the motion was my attempt to ensure that council keeps control over the project. This motion passed 7-1 with Councillor Young voting against.

The next motion was to cap the bridge spending at $92,800,000 and to put this into the City’s 20 year capital budget. This passed 5-3 with councillors Young, Isitt and myself voting against. I like the process we agreed to and that I helped to craft, especially the part about retaining Council’s control. But I don’t like embedding a $92,800,000 expense in the 20-year capital plan when there are so many other unfunded capital projects. My hope is that the bids come back under estimate (though my worry goes the other way!) and that we revise the capital budget to reflect this. Stay tuned here an on my Facebook page for updates and discussions about the bridge project as it unfolds and potential revenue generating opportunities on the horizon.

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