The Ross River bridge in November 2013. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News)

Bids to finishing fixing Ross River’s footbridge come in over budget

The lowest bid to fix Ross River’s footbridge is $1 million more than the government wanted to spend

The bill for the next phase of repairs to the Ross River footbridge could come in $1 million over budget.

Bidding for the work, slated to start this summer, closed July 5. Government documents show the lowest bid was just under $4 million.

That’s substantially more than the $3 million budget the territorial government had set for this last phase of work.

Four companies bid on the project, all from Outside. The bids go as high as $5.8 million.

The lowest bid was submitted by Surespan Construction Ltd. out of North Vancouver.

So far the Department of Community Services won’t say what the high bids mean for the future of the bridge.

No one directly connected to the project was made available to talk about what happened. In a written statement, spokesperson Diana Dryburgh said the department “will hold an internal funding review to determine our next steps. As soon as we have more information about the future of this project, we will share it.”

Community Services Minister John Streicker said it was too early to say whether the government is willing to spend an extra million dollars on the project.

“When the bids come in high then we need to take this to cabinet for a full conversation — it is a requirement — and also would want to take it to the community and make sure it’s still what they want.”

The minister said he hasn’t had a chance to speak with community members or representatives from the First Nation.

Just because the plans are being re-evaluated doesn’t mean the bridge is not a priority, Streicker said.

“It just means there’s so many different outcomes that could happen here I don’t want to give a sense of where it’s landing.”

Work on the Ross River footbridge started in 2013. That’s when it was discovered that the old structure was so unsafe the bridge needed to come down.

The community protested and the Yukon Party government of the time agreed to save the structure.

Since then $1.6 million in federal and territorial money was spent to stabilize the north and south towers.

The government so far hasn’t said how much it cost the Yukon to cancel the original plan to knock the bridge down.

Even after the first round of repairs, the bridge still couldn’t be walked on. In order for it to be useable again, this year’s final repairs included new stairs, cables, anchors and decking.

The majority of the $3 million came from the federal government. Ottawa agreed to chip in up to $2.25 million and Yukon agreed to contribute the remaining $750,000.

It’s not clear whether Yukon could ask the federal government to up the amount of money it’s willing to spend on the bridge.

“These are issues that will be considered during the internal review process,” Dryburgh said in her email.

Dryburgh said the Yukon government has seven more years to use the money that came from the Small Communities Fund. “Canada has approved the funding for this project and a delay in the schedule will not affect the project’s status.”

Yukon Party MLA Stacey Hassard believes the government needs to spend the extra cash on the bridge.

“The bridge is vital to the community and it needs to be there,” he said.

Hassard, the MLA for Pelly-Nisutlin and the interim leader of the Yukon Party, questioned why the government’s estimate was not in line with what companies bid.

“The Liberal government made such a big deal out their new budgeting process. They said that it’s going to account for the true cost,” he said.

“In fact it was the reason we went back into the legislature so late this spring because they needed to do all this work to ensure that the budgeting was done properly.”

For its part, the department will only say that government estimates “are typically developed by our engineering consultants.”

“We cannot speculate at this time the difference between the estimate and the bid prices,” Dryburgh said.

This year’s territorial budget includes a small surplus of only $6.5 million. That means the government has very little wiggle room for surprises before it would run a deficit.

The Ross River footbridge was constructed by the U.S. Army in 1944 to carry an oil pipeline over the river. It was later retrofitted as a footbridge.

It is the only thing that connects the two sides of the Pelly River during freeze-up and break-up when the local ferry can’t run.

Back in January Streicker said the hope was that the bridge would be completely repaired this summer. Now that deadline seems more up in the air.

“I don’t know what is reasonable now because it’s going to depend on several things,” he said.

Streicker said discussions about the bridge will be part of the next cabinet meeting.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Pelly RiverRoss RiverYukon Department of Community Services

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Liberal leader Sandy Silver speaks outside his campaign headquarters in Dawson City following early poll results on April 12. (Robin Sharp/Yukon News)
BREAKING: Minority government results will wait on tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin

The Yukon Party and the Liberal Party currently have secured the same amount of seats

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: The Neapolitan election

Do you remember those old bricks of Neapolitan ice cream from birthday… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Exposure notice issued for April 3 Air North flight

Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley has issued another… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Runners in the Yukon Arctic Ultra marathon race down the Yukon River near the Marwell industrial area in Whitehorse on Feb. 3, 2019.
Cold-weather exercise hard on the lungs

Amy Kenny Special to the Yukon News It might make you feel… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
This week at city hall

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its April 6 meeting.

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Most Read