Pedestrian bridge project still breathing

Regional partners collaborate to move forward with pipeline

The deal for a new bridge in Trail hasn’t sunk just yet.

The mayors of Rossland, Warfield and Trail pulled together to keep the project from going south after bids came in higher than the city’s $10 million estimate for a combined pipe/pedestrian bridge.

“Trail re-negotiated with a contractor to get a good price,” Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore told the Trail Times Wednesday. “So it was important for all councils to get on board with a new funding contribution agreement because time was really limited. The contractor wasn’t going to wait forever, so if we wanted his price, we were going to have to work together quickly.”

Trail Mayor Mike Martin was optimistic agreements would be inked by Friday

“The city initiated discussions with Graham Infrastructure LP, Buckland & Taylor and TRUE Consulting to determine if there could be cost reductions in the project through potential modifications and changes in approach,” he confirmed. “So what is really driving this, is we are up against the tight timeline because of the negotiations going on with the low bid contractor.”

Trail council called a special meeting for noon today (Thursday) to consent to the $3 million increase in the RDKB loan bylaw (Number 1583) which states, “it is deemed desirable and expedient, to make improvements to the RDKB East End Sewer System through the construction of an aerial crossing to convey sewage across the Columbia River.”

“This has been a very complex process and there is a lot of background,” Martin explained.

“The level of cooperation and trust exhibited by our partners in Rossland and Warfield to work cooperatively and find a solution that is good for the entire area is unprecedented.”

Rossland council called a special meeting Tuesday. As a regional entity, council agreed to the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) borrowing another $3 million for the new sewer interceptor line.

That increases the contribution for the regional sewer partnership between Rossland, Warfield and Trail to $7.2 million for an aerial sewer crossing.

Based on percentage of flow, Rossland would pay about 25 per cent, or $1.8 million under those terms. That’s about an $800,000 increase over last year’s negotiated deal. Warfield’s 12 per cent contribution would rise to about $800,000 from $527,000.  Trail’s 63 per cent portion, or  $4.6 million, is upped almost $2 million from the 2014 agreement.

Moore acknowledged the previous apportionments were reached through negotiation, and not based on actual tender pricing.

“No one really thought they could get a pipeline across for $4.2 million, that amount was negotiated to get a deal,” she added. “So this is more fair to Trail, I believe.”

The total bridge cost is $14.4 million, which includes engineering fees, contract administration and contingency, Martin said.

He clarified $12.1 million is the re-negotiated tender price. That means Trail will pay $7.2 million toward the walking platform which is $1.1 million more than previously estimated.

Martin maintains the bridge costs will not impact taxpayers because the money will be covered internally through a combination of reserves and reallocations in the 2016 capital budget.

The pipe/pedestrian bridge was slated to break ground this month following years of engineering work and negotiations with Trail’s regional sewer partners.

All parties agree they were caught off guard last month when tendering bids came in $4 million to $14 million over the city’s budget.

“When that went sideways, it felt like a disaster because it’s a project we thought was all wrapped up and behind us,” said Moore. “There has been sleepless nights, but this is an excellent example of regional collaboration because all three councils approved the motion to move forward.”

Trail handled the tendering process because they have the lion’s share of the pipeline as well as the pedestrian bridge, she explained.

“In terms of the agreement, if the tender hadn’t been awarded by Aug. 31 or if Trail rejected the tenders then…what we agreed upon was void. So we worked really hard together to try to speed up the process (for a new agreement.)”

Time was of the essence because holding off on the project would be gambling with the health of the Columbia River.

“We all know we have to get a new sewer line across the river,” Moore said. “The bridge (Old Trail Bridge) has been condemned for a number of years, and though chances are it’s not going to fall into the river tomorrow, we cannot risk a leak or an environmental disaster. So it was important that we get a solution after working on this for years and the old deal fell apart.”

Council considered other methods to carry the utility line across the river before putting the decision to vote on Tuesday.

“There were a lot of factors arguing for us to go forward with this now rather than waiting,” Moore reiterated. “And that was weighed against if we could get it cheaper doing it some other way. But a lot of other options had been looked at in the past and were pretty speculative. So we felt comfortable going forward and making the decision we did.”