5th Street Bridge FAQs

Answers

  1. What should I expect during construction?

    Construction will begin on Thursday, April 15, 2021 and continue for six months.

    What you will hear:

    Construction noise between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. six days per week, some evenings and Sundays

    What you will see:

    • crews, equipment, and materials
    • site office
    • bridge scaffolding
    • traffic congestion around bridge
    • detour and safety signage
  2. Will the bridge remain open to vehicle traffic?

    Yes, the bridge will remain open during construction. Traffic will be reduced to a single lane with alternating flows. Brief intermittent periods of full closure may still be required at times.

    The current project budget estimates include additional costs of $700,000 to keep the bridge open to one lane of traffic during construction.  Although the project budget would be $700,000 less if the bridge were fully closed, the City of Courtenay recognizes that a full closure of the bridge would result in significant impacts the community

  3. Why does bridge traffic need to be reduced to one lane?

    The 5th Street Bridge is coated in lead paint that must be removed to address the corrosion within the steel. To protect the surrounding environment, the bridge will need to be wrapped for a significant portion the project. Metal scaffolding around the bridge will be covered to prevent lead paint and other contaminants from entering the marine environment and surrounding area. This scaffolding will limit the available lane width on the bridge as well as reduce overhead clearance.

  4. How will traffic patterns be changing on roads around the bridge during construction?

     

    Leaving downtown by vehicle:

    Access the 5th Street Bridge by travelling north on Cliffe Avenue to the laneway below the Native Sons Hall, to 1st Street, then right on Anderton Avenue. This detour will provide a waiting area for vehicles crossing the bridge. Consider turning left on Anderton Avenue at 1st Street to the Condensory Bridge. Eastbound vehicles will not be able to access the bridge from 5th Street.

    Commuters should anticipate numerous changes to traffic flow in the area, including temporary traffic signals, signage, and traffic control personnel at various locations in and around the construction zone.

  5. How will pedestrian and cycling access be maintained during construction?

    Maintaining safe access for all modes of transportation is a priority for the project team. 

    Temporary walkways will be constructed on both the north and south sides of the bridge for people who walk or cycle.

    Cyclists using these walkways will need to dismount and walk their bikes. Cyclists may also use the priority vehicle lane and ride across the bridge.

    Underpasses on both ends of the 5th Street Bridge will be closed.

  6. Will large vehicles be able to use the bridge during construction?

    Due to reduced overhead clearance, vehicles over three (3) metres in height will not be able to cross the 5th Street bridge during construction. 

    Overheight vehicles must use an alternate route. Options include:

    • 17th Street Bridge
    • Condensory Bridge – Anderton Avenue to Condensory Road
    • North Connector – Piercy Road
  7. Why does the 5th Street Bridge need to be rehabilitated?

    Originally constructed in 1960, the 5th Street Bridge is an important transportation connection in the Comox Valley, linking key networks to downtown and beyond. The entire region depends on the 5th Street Bridge as a primary route across the Courtenay River.

    Although the bridge has had regular maintenance over the past decades, as with any major asset, periodic major maintenance and repairs will be required throughout its lifespan. Other initiatives over previous decades have included repainting; however these layers have built up, including lead paint, and rust underneath these layers needs to be removed.

  8. Who will complete the work?

    The City of Courtenay has awarded the contract for the rehabilitation of the 5th Street Bridge to Park Derochie, an industry leader in bridge rehabilitation projects, specializing in blast cleaning, coatings, and scaffolding.

  9. When was the last investment in the bridge made?

    Bridge inspections and maintenance are conducted regularly to assess bridge condition. The last major rehabilitation work was completed in 2012. It included seismic upgrades through the replacement of deck expansion joints and the application of a corrosion-resistant coating to the underside of the bridge. The project also replaced areas of damaged concrete along with bridge deck maintenance and sealing. 

  10. How will the bridge be improved?

    The rehabilitation project includes removal of the existing overlay, bridge deck repair, structural steel repairs to the deck beams, refurbished hand rails, removal of the lead paint and rust, recoating of the steel structure, and new road markings. The new bridge coating will protect the bridge from rust and corrosion as well as improve its appearance.

  11. How does this project compare to other recent bridge projects?

    No two bridges are exactly the same and as a result the scope and budget of each bridge rehabilitation or replacement can vary significantly based on a variety of factors including age, where it is located, how it was built, amenities, width and span, and geotechnical conditions. 

  12. How will these repairs affect the bridge’s lifespan?

    As part of a proactive asset management program, regular ongoing inspections of the bridge identify routine maintenance, monitor overall condition, and identify any deterioration.  

    It is estimated that it will be 20 or more years before additional bridge refurbishment is required. This is a conservative estimate, and does not mean that the bridge will have reached the end of its intended lifespan in 20 years.

  13. Can’t the bridge just be repainted?

    The existing paint is failing and will need to be completely removed and replaced.  Typical of bridges built during this period, lead paint was originally used to coat the steel. To recoat the bridge, the lead paint must be carefully removed to reveal bare metal before being recoated.  The removal of the lead paint requires that the bridge be “wrapped”, including scaffolding, to prevent the lead paint and other contaminants from entering the environment. It is essential to remove lead paint properly. This process is time consuming, noisy, and has many safety considerations to avoid negative impacts to the environment and human health.

  14. Have you considered adding another vehicle lane to the 5th Street Bridge?

    Increasing the vehicle capacity of the 5th Street Bridge was considered as part of the Transportation Master Plan process, through detailed traffic models by traffic engineering consultants. Widening the bridge was ultimately not recommended because it was determined that bridge traffic would encounter traffic flow issues, or bottlenecks, on the roads on either end of the bridge, and any improvements would be minimal and would not justify the substantial additional cost. Even if traffic consultants had recommended widening, there would have been significant structural upgrades required, and after preliminary consideration, it is uncertain if the current structure would support an additional lane and motorized vehicles.

  15. Would it be more cost-effective to build a brand new bridge?

    Rehabilitation options for the 5th Street Bridge cost much less than a full replacement. Engineers specializing in bridge construction and rehabilitation estimate replacement costs to be $25 million - $30 million, taking into account the current market and construction cost escalation experienced on Vancouver Island over the last several years. Engineers have determined the 5th Street Bridge has not reached the end of its useful life, and it would be premature to consider replacing it at this time. Rehabilitation is required, and it is one of the City’s core responsibilities to maintain the integrity of our infrastructure assets for the benefit of our community.

  16. How much will the bridge rehabilitation cost?

    The project budget to rehabilitate the 5th Street Bridge based on current estimates is $6.5 million. The construction contract is valued at $5.4 million. Additional project costs include project management, traffic optimizations, and contingency.

    The City of Courtenay has received $1.96 million in grant funding from the New Building Canada – Small Communities Fund. The remainder of the project costs will be funded by the City of Courtenay.

    After factoring in grant contributions and infrastructure reserves, the City will need to borrow funds to rehabilitate the bridge. Electoral approval was obtained through the Alternative Approval Process (AAP) in fall 2020. Learn more: www.courtenay.ca/aap.

  17. Why have the costs increased since the earlier estimates were developed?

    Since the initial estimates were developed in 2015 the construction market on Vancouver Island has boomed, and the bridge condition has continued to deteriorate. The new estimates reflect the market escalation that has occurred and the increased costs associated with the additional repair required. Costs will continue to increase the longer rehabilitation is delayed and the bridge condition continues to deteriorate over time.

  18. What would be the anticipated costs for an average taxpayer?

    Annual debt servicing costs for this project are estimated at $233,293 over 20 years and would cost the average residential property owner approximatly $13 per year.

    Additional funding will be provided through $1.96 million in federal and provincial grants, and the remainder from reserve funds.

  19. What measures are being taken to reduce construction time and costs?

    Bridges serve an important role in our communities and require thoughtful consideration when it comes to repair and investment. The City is committed to identifying all possible ways to expedite the timeline while ensuring public safety and minimizing costs. While every effort is being made to mitigate negative impacts wherever possible, some impacts will be unavoidable during construction. The rehabilitation of the bridge is not a decision that is made lightly; it considers the bridge’s potential service lifespan, the impact on taxpayers, the need to maintain public safety and protect the environment, and various guidelines from regulatory agencies regarding engineering standards, public safety and the environment

  20. What is the construction schedule?

    Construction will begin on Thursday, April 15, 2021 and continue for six months.

    The project is progressing as per the below schedule.  While the ongoing COVID pandemic delayed some items by a few months, overall the project is still on track to meet the original schedule.The timing and length of the work has been informed by seasonal weather and regulatory requirements.

    • Mid-April – Mobilization, traffic detours in place
    • April to July – Coating
    • July to October – Deck repairs, including cathodic system
    • October – Completion, Demobilization

     

  21. Can the work be scheduled to minimize impacts to summer and holiday shopping seasons?

    The project team has worked to reduce impacts to the community where possible; however, due to the nature of the work, some impacts are unavoidable.

    Winter construction would have presented additional challenges to the construction process. This work must be scheduled during the warmer, drier months.

  22. When was the decision made to rehabilitate the 5th Street Bridge?

    On Monday, June 24, 2019, City Council directed staff to proceed with next steps towards rehabilitating the bridge, as well as widened cantilevered pathways to improve cycling and pedestrian access.

    On February 3, 2020, following review of advanced design for construction staging and scheduling, options for pedestrian and cyclist connectivity, and stakeholder and public engagement, City Council directed staff to remove the cantilever option from the bridge design, and direct resources for improving connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists across the Courtenay River through a dedicated 6th Street pedestrian and cyclist bridge. Learn more about the 6th Street Bridge Project

  23. How will the waterway below the bridge be protected during the work?

    The bridge is coated in lead paint.  As a result, there are significant environmental and safety requirements to ensure the paint is properly collected and disposed of. The bridge will need to be wrapped to prevent contamination of the surrounding area.

  24. Will you use local suppliers to repair the bridge?

    While bridge repairs of this scale are highly specialized, major construction projects typically call on local suppliers for at least some portions of the work, and there will be subcontractors from the Comox Valley area working on this project.

  25. How can I learn more?

    Proactive communications will be an essential part of this project to ensure timely information is conveyed to the travelling public, business community, and residents living in, or travelling through, the area.

    Stay informed on the project webpage www.courtenay.ca/5thstreetbridge