NNSL Photo/Graphic

Canadian North

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

Deh Cho Bridge may hit $200 million
Transportation minister announces up to $10 million in additional funding

Danielle Sachs
Northern News Services
Published Friday, June 8, 2012

Transportation Minister David Ramsay announced Wednesday that the territorial government will be adding up to $10 million to the Deh Cho Bridge budget, a move that could potentially put construction costs at more than $200 million at completion.

NNSL photo/graphic

The GNWT is now paying for the Deh Cho Bridge. The biannual payments are listed in the 2012-2013 budget. - Mike W. Bryant/NNSL photo

Ramsay said the additional money is necessary to complete the project by November.

The cost of the bridge was projected at $165 million when shovels hit the ground in 2007 but the latest announcement puts its potential price tag as high as $202.2 million.

Ramsay said no programs or other projects in the 2012-2013 budget are at risk due to the additional increase of up to $10 million.

"We'll approach it with a supplementary appropriation act," said Ramsay.

"We really can't afford not to get the money during this session, we have to move forward, we have to finish the project."

Kevin McLeod, the GNWT's director of the Deh Cho Bridge project, said the projected opening date of the bridge is still November 2012, but couldn't specify an exact day or week.

McLeod said Ruskin Construction Ltd., the prime contractor on the project, approached the GNWT in March saying it needed an extension and the 2012 target date was at risk.

The GNWT met with Ruskin Construction Ltd., and after discussions in April and May decided on an agreement-in-principle that would see both parties pick up the added costs.

McLeod said two other options were looked at: stay the course with the current contract and aim for an opening of 2013 or push Ruskin Construction to accelerate production at its own costs and risk legal claims in court from the company.

McLeod said a 2013 opening would have ended up costing more than what is in the new agreement. He estimated the added cost at up to $15 million if the project completion was held over until next year.

He said he has already seen differences on the work site. The contractor has doubled the shifts, adding around 35 workers.

Instead of one 10-hour shift a day, there are two. More equipment is also being used to get the project finished on time.

When asked yesterday if it was possible construction costs could go up even higher than $202.2 million, Earl Blacklock, communications manager for the Department of Transportation, told Yellowknifer "with capital projects there are no guarantees but we do have a certain amount of confidence with this agreement."

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.