Bridging the gaps

The Chaplin Street East bridge across the Swift Current Creek was constructed in 1954.

A bridge along a busy Swift Current street will undergo much needed repair and maintenance work, but some changes were made to the project details to keep it affordable.

Councillors approved the contract for the Chaplin Street East bridge expansion joint replacement during a regular council meeting that took place via video conference, June 29.

The contract was awarded to PCL Construction Management Inc. for a total amount of $256,115.08 (PST included, GST excluded).

This single deck bridge across the Swift Current Creek was constructed in 1954. The condition of the structure was assessed in 2011, 2014 and 2019.

It became clear that the bridge required some repair work, including the replacement of the deck expansion joints, repairs to concrete and accident damage to the bridge rail, as well as sand blasting and painting of the girder ends. Repairs to the asphalt surface will also be necessary after the replacement of the deck joints.

City General Manager of Infrastructure and Operations Mitch Minken provided details about the project during an online media briefing after the council meeting.

“There are two main supports and a concrete deck across those supports, and at the end of that concrete deck are the expansion joints,” he explained. “It allows the road and the bridge to move, because they move at different expansion rates with heating and cooling.”

The City carried out maintenance work on these expansion joints in the past, but it is now necessary to replace the existing joints.

“We maintained them a couple of times by welding new covers onto them, but it's definitely time to do those joints more permanently and get them replaced, to get some concrete work and some damage work done, a new fresh mill and a fresh bit of asphalt and the bridge will be good for a lot of years again,” he said. “We would probably be extending it's life another 35 years at this point. It was originally constructed in 1954 and combing through the records we could find no records of any other major work being done on it. So it served the city very well.”

An estimate indicated the cost of the repair work will be about $250,000 and an amount of $400,000 was included in the 2020 capital budget for this project, with additional funds for design engineering, construction management and paving.

The project was tendered in May and four tenders were receive, but the submissions were higher than the budgeted amount. The tender submissions ranged from $571,800 for the lowest bid by PCL Construction to the highest bid of just over $1 million. This tender was therefore cancelled and the entire project was reviewed.

A key factor was the higher than expected cost to sandblast and repaint the bridge girder ends, which accounted for about $200,000 of the total bid price. The cost to do this work is more expensive due to the need to comply with safety and environmental requirements for sand blasting in close proximity to the Swift Current Creek.

The City changed the scope of the project to exclude the painting of the bridge girder ends and PCL Construction agreed to enter into a non-tendered agreement to do the expansion joint replacement at a cost of $256,115.08 (PST included, GST excluded).

According to Minken the City felt it was not necessary to repeat the tender bid process after the revision of the project scope.

“Given the range of the bidders on it, we didn't believe there was any value in going back out to tender again,” he said. “We selected the lowest bidder to negotiate with. They would have been ordered the project anyway and we altered the scope and negotiated with them to get the work awarded to them.”

The sand blasting and painting of the bridge girder ends will still be done, but it will happen in a future year as part of another tender for repainting several bridges in the city.

“We have this bridge and a few others that require repainting of the girder ends,” he said. “So we're going to package that together in one contract in the future. It's really to a different type of contractor that would be interested in doing this work. So we'll package up a bunch of sandblasting and painting next year and get it into another contract where we hope to get some better pricing for it.”

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