Kelowna council bites the financial bullet on Lakeshore Road

Project to improve the stretch between Lexington Drive and Cook Road and replace the Mission Creek Bridge will cost an extra $1.1 million.

The City of Kelowna hasn’t planted a shovel in the ground yet, but already its big plan to upgrade part of Lakeshore Road and replace the Mission Creek Bridge has jumped in cost by $1.12 million.

On Monday, council approved the increased cost to the plan, which was already slated at just under $10 million, after city staff said additional items and work are needed because preliminary cost estimates were based on outdated population forecasts for the area.

As a result, larger utilities such as sanitary sewer pipes will be required to service future growth, the bridge itself will have to be slightly higher than originally planned because it must meet the 200-year flood level and the cost of burying utility lines will be higher than originally thought.

“While I’m not happy to have to spend the additional money, it is the right thing to do,” said Coun. Colin Basran, who along with the rest of council voted to spend the additional money.

The new section of road, between Cook Road and Lexington Drive, will feature two traffic lanes plus a dual-turn lane, a traffic roundabout at Lakeshore and Lexington, a new multi-use pathway on one side of Lakeshore and a centre median, as well as the rebuilt bridge, landscaped boulevards on each side of the road and ornamental light posts.

Purvez Irani, manager of the roads division with the City of Kelowna, told council Monday he expects the long-awaited project will finally go to tender within the next two weeks and construction should start late next month. The work is expected to be complete by November.

In the past, the city has tried several times to secure provincial or federal grants to rebuild the Mission Creek Bridge, but has failed to land any money for it. The bridge has had problems in the past with flood damage during heavy spring run off times.

Following the last rejection of a grant request, the city decided to go it alone because it felt, as a major traffic corridor in the Mission, it could not wait any longer to do the work.

In the 2014 budget, council gave staff the financial green light to do the work this year. The additional money needed for the project will come from several city reserve funds, meaning the increase will not have a direct impact on taxes this year.

But some of the extra money will come from other city projects that were slated to start this year, such as the plan to start repaving city parking lots.

That program that will be put off and re-evaluated later, said John Vos, city infrastructure division director.

Irani said once work on the Lakeshore project begins, the city will have a set timeframe between the end of May and August to rebuild the bridge over Mission Creek because of provincial requirements.

The road and creek crossing are expected to be closed for about five months and during that detours will be well marked, sending traffic to different roads, including Gordon Drive.

Despite the increase in cost, the project got a thumbs up from council.

‘It’s a great project and much needed in the area,” said Coun. Robert Hobson.

Hobson added he was glad to see the city doing it all now rather than stretching the work out over a few years, despite the fact the work is “draining” city reso urces.