Burrard Bridge report shows need for repairs

City of Vancouver refused to make report public

While city council spent $12 million on the Point Grey-Cornwall bike lane and the Burrard Bridge’s south intersection, city hall hid engineers’ reports that urged major repairs to the decaying 82-year-old span.

The 2011 and 2012 reports, mostly by Associated Engineering, were finally released to the Courier Oct. 27 after a two-year battle. They recommended the city spend $9 million to $12.22 million on coating, $4.4 million to replace the pedestrian fence, $3.4 million to widen the roadway and $2.5 million to widen the sidewalks.

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The reports also recommended a major overhaul to the decaying concrete deck, which carries 54,000 vehicles daily. By comparison, an average 1,500 cyclists a day plied the new bike lane last June.  

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner ordered the city on Sept. 12 to release more than 700 pages in full. The province’s Freedom of Information referee didn’t buy the city’s speculative fear that the bridge would become a terrorist target if the records were released. Adjudicator Hamish Flanagan said release of the reports would actually help the city obtain fair bids for the repairs.

A July 2012 Technical Memorandum on Pedestrian Fence Options recommended like-for-like replacement of the deteriorating steel-reinforced concrete fencing. The project would incorporate restored lighting and a long-delayed suicide barrier. In 2008, the B.C. Coroners Service recommended the Burrard, Granville, Ironworkers, Lions Gate and Pattullo bridges be retrofitted because they were sites of 50 per cent of suicide deaths from jumping between 1991 and 2007.

“There is extensive spalling and delaminations throughout the fence,” according to a Levelton Consultants inspection. “It appears that spalling on the outside of the fence is worse than on the side adjacent to the roadway. It is estimated that there is some form of corrosion related deterioration on at least 80 per cent of the vertical portions of the fence.”

A May 2012 Design Load Rating report said the bridge had “marginal capacity” to carry the standard 64-tonne gross vehicle weight and required girder strengthening in order to continue supporting buses and fire trucks. City general manager of engineering services Peter Judd said work was completed.

“I’m not going to say it meets that standard,” Judd said. “It is adequate to deal with the loads that are on it, the buses and trucks that are on it.”

Last November, Graham Infrastructure was contracted for $5.12 million to replace bearings and expansion joints and make localized concrete repairs. Judd said the deck has some cracking and needs work.

“It doesn’t need to be done imminently, but we’re keeping an eye on it and it’s safe.” Many of the recommendations will be followed if voters approve the $235 million, 2015-2018 capital plan on Nov. 15. There is $20 million earmarked for lighting, sidewalks and railing replacement.

“It’s the right amount of money for the condition of the bridge and what needs to be done, I’m comfortable with that,” Judd said.

The OIPC decision was among a trio in late summer against City of Vancouver. Details of the $4 million parking meter payment-by-phone contract and documents about the city’s surveillance camera network were also ordered released.

bob@bobmackin.ca

twitter.com/bobmackin

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