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Deh Cho Bridge cost now at $192 million
Transportation minister announces additional $10 million in costs

Galit Rodan
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, December 14, 2011

An additional $10 million is needed to complete the Deh Cho Bridge, bringing the total cost to $192 million, Transportation Minister David Ramsay announced in the legislative assembly yesterday afternoon.

Ramsay said the costs are associated with improvements to the design of the bridge and additional project management and engineering costs resulting from prolonging construction to fall 2012. He said the improved design will "enhance the quality of work and the long-term performance of the bridge."

Ramsay, possibly the most vocal critic of the Deh Cho Bridge during his tenure as a regular member of the 16th legislative assembly, tried to lessen the blow of the announcement by reminding the assembly how much progress has already been made. Still, he was not able to guarantee that there would be no additional costs over and above the additional $10 million.

"The project is moving forward in the most efficient manner possible ... every effort to mitigate further financial risk is being taken," he said.

Construction of the one kilometre, two-lane Deh Cho Bridge began in 2008. The controversial project has already exceeded its budget of $165 million - rising previously to $182 million - and its completion date has been delayed nearly a year. It's now expected to open during the fall of 2012.

Ramsay admitted there are still potential risks to the schedule, including "late delivery of key components; new works such as the installation of the towers and cables, which could take longer than foreseen; and severe weather conditions, which could slow the overall pace of work."

Ramsay said his department is still committed to a retrospective analysis of the project, a report which he said could potentially be completed and released within six months of the bridge's completion. He said the analysis would be made available to both MLAs and members of the public, and would include "total project costs as well as lessons learned."

He said the government would recoup the construction costs from tolls charged on commercial vehicles crossing the bridge. Ramsay said the tolls would only be levied on trucks carrying freight north and he does not expect the tolls will lead to any measurable increase on product costs for Northerners.

Range Lake MLA Daryl Dolynny offered this in response: "I'm hoping we're on budget with no more surprises."

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