Fifth Street Bridge AAP Complete: Borrowing to Proceed for Upgrades

The unofficial results are in for the Fifth Street Bridge Rehabilitation Alternative Approval Process (AAP). 52 elector response forms were received by the November 16, 2020 deadline. The number of eligible Courtenay electors was 20,162. As fewer than 10 percent of eligible electors registered their opposition, the City of Courtenay may proceed with borrowing $3.4 million to rehabilitate the bridge next year.

The Fifth Street Bridge requires structural improvements, new coating to repair and prevent corrosion, and deck repairs.

”This will be one of the most complex infrastructure projects ever completed in the City of Courtenay,” said Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells. “The successful conclusion of the AAP brings us one step closer to the launch of construction in the spring. Our staff are working on detailed planning and preparations with an experienced team of engineers and traffic management specialists.

“We know it has been a tough year for our community, with the pandemic disrupting every aspect of our lives and having a big impact on our local businesses,” added Wells. “At the same time, these bridge repairs can’t be postponed any longer. The repair needs and costs are increasing every year, and we also have a deadline to meet for our grant funding. This is an extremely challenging project, and we’ll be sharing much more information on what residents, businesses, and commuters can expect over the coming weeks and months.”

The Fifth Street Bridge was constructed in 1960. The last significant investment in the bridge, including seismic upgrading, was in 2012. Engineers specializing in bridge construction and rehabilitation have determined the bridge has not yet reached the end of its useful life, and upgrades are necessary to preserve its integrity and prevent deterioration. Bridge repair was strongly recommended as a cost-effective, faster, less disruptive option compared to full bridge replacement.

Active construction is planned to start in spring 2021, and is expected to take approximately six months. Traffic management planning is underway to determine the most efficient and safe options for the travelling public during construction. Consultation with the community helped inform the project plan and traffic management strategy, including through an online survey and open house, in addition to significant outreach with numerous stakeholder groups starting in fall 2019. The traffic management strategy is expected to be available for review by Council and the public in December. 

Total project costs are estimated at $6.3 million. The project will be funded through a combination of $1.96 million in grant funding, $0.94 million in reserves, and the remaining $3.4 million in borrowing.  Annual debt servicing costs for this project are estimated at $233,293 over 20 years. The impact to the average residential property will be approximately $13/year. Council will consider the borrowing bylaw for adoption at the December 7, 2020 Council meeting.

Information about the AAP opportunity was available through the City of Courtenay website, and promoted through the local newspaper, radio, social media, and the Fifth Street Bridge project e-newsletter.

Bob Wells

Mayor, City of Courtenay