Changes to Lewes Boulevard are expected over the summer as the city proposes to do both utility work and install a permanent bus lane in and out of the Riverdale neighbourhood.
At Whitehorse city council’s April 4 meeting, Taylor Eshpeter, the city’s manager of engineering services, brought forward a recommendation that council add another $400,000 to the bus lane project so that the utility work could also be included.
That work would see a new valve chamber for the city’s water system replaced within the roadway at Lewes Boulevard and Hospital Road.
With the bus lane project already budgeted at $745,000, another $400,000 would bring the entire budget up to $1.145 million.
Funding would initially come from city reserves until the Canada Community-Building Fund (formerly known as gas tax funding) comes through. The additional costs are eligible for the federal funding.
The valve chamber
As Eshpeter explained in his report to city council, the city was moving forward with design work for a permanent bus lane along Lewes Boulevard following the success of a pilot bus lane project in 2018. Along with work to build a permanent bus lane, an active transportation crossing at the Hospital Road intersection and improvements to the eastern side of the intersection are also planned.
As planning for the bus lane was underway, it was learned a valve chamber within the Lewes Boulevard/Hospital Road intersection had deteriorated to the point that an emergency repair was required. Temporary bracing was put in place in December to prevent short term failure while staff looked at long-term solutions.
“Given that the valve chamber is located within the proposed limits of construction for the Lewes Boulevard Bus Lane project and the valve chamber’s implications to design of the Lewes Boulevard Bus Lane project, it was deemed most cost-effective and practical to include design and construction work for the valve chamber in the Lewes Boulevard Bus Lane project rather than through a standalone project,” Eshpeter explained.
He went on to note that while the installation of the new valve chamber could be done as a standalone project, it would mean increased project management work, additional procurement, contract administration, monitoring and tender work.
“A standalone project would also introduce design and construction coordination challenges, thereby introducing additional risk to the delivery of the projects,” Eshpeter stated in his report. “The Lewes Boulevard Bus Lane project is largely dependant on valve chamber upgrades proceeding first, therefore any scope and schedule implications associated with the valve chamber are likely to impact the scope and schedule of the Lewes Boulevard Bus Lane project.
“If a standalone project were pursued for the valve chamber replacement, then the construction contract for the Lewes Boulevard Bus Lane project would be delayed by at least one construction season.”
He went on to suggest that while an integrated project could also mean a delay, it’s expected by having both initiatives covered under one contract, it’s more likely that all, or at least a substantial amount, could be done in the upcoming construction season “pending availability of contractor resources and material availability.”
While city staff had also looked at the possibility of reducing the scope of the bus lane project to accommodate the valve work within the approved budget, Eshpeter noted it was found the improvements would have to be reduced significantly and it would mean taking out the components for active transportation.
“The active transportation improvements include an additional Lewes Boulevard crossing on the south side of the intersection, removal of the right turn slip lanes, and improved geometry of crossings,” he said. “There is value in these safety benefits, however, they are not critical for the implementation of the bus lane itself and are considered added value to the project.”
Eshpeter then recommended council approve the budget increase to the project. Council will vote on it April 11.
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