Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Peace Bridge: Could The City build it for cheaper?

If recent online comments are any indication, a lot of Calgarians are wondering whether The City could build Peace Bridge for cheaper. Some comments seem to suggest that The City is overpaying for what could have been a relatively affordable pedestrian bridge solution.

To address some of these questions, I spoke with Mac Logan, director of Transportation Infrastructure for The City of Calgary. Logan says that it's a misconception that the bridge could have been built for $5 million. While The City has built pedestrian bridges for approximately that cost in the past, in this case, it wouldn't have been possible.

Logan says that there are a number of factors that came into play in the cost of Peace Bridge, including the width of the Bow River at the point of crossing (the location was selected based on the amount of pedestrian and bicycle traffic).

Secondly, The City wants to maintain the usability of the helipad located in the area, which is used predominantly by HAWC1 and STARS. Essentially what that means is that the bridge can't be suspended by overhead towers, which would restrict air space clearance.

Finally, Logan said that The City wants to ensure that the bridge minimizes the potential environmental impact on the Bow River, so the bridge was designed so that it would not have any piers in the river.

Of course the bridge will have to be built to withstand Calgary's once in a 100 year flood cycle (hopefully we're good until at least another 100 years after the flooding of 2005).

Peace Bridge will cost approximately $30,000/m2 which is lower than similar pedestrian bridges in other municipalities, including Edmonton's pedestrian bridge that will cost $33,000/m2.

The vast majority of the funding for Peace Bridge comes from the Province's Municipal Sustainability Initiative, which is collected by the province from oil and gas revenues and granted to municipalities across Alberta for projects that meet the demands of growth. The City will only be contributing $125,000 towards the project - 0.5% of the total project cost.

Check out my interview with Mac Logan, The City's director of Transportation Infrastructure below.

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