The Keystone Bridge construction site. City of Mission photo.

The Keystone Bridge construction site. City of Mission photo.

Mission’s Keystone Bridge: City blames cost overruns and delays on FortisBC

Nearly six month after Mission’s Keystone Bridge Replacement project was supposed to be complete, the project lead came to council asking for another $325,000.

The reason for the extra costs and delay? The report is pointing at FortisBC.

“We were on track to deliver this project,” said Jay Jackman, manager of development engineering, projects and design. “Where it really fell flat was when Fortis simply didn’t show up.”

Hanna Infrastructure, the city’s contractor, was hampered by supply chain issues, design changes and three atmospheric rivers in November, but “the most significant issue was coordinating and accommodating FortisBC,” according to a report to council on April 19.

A 50 millimetre gas line running along Keystone Avenue is operated by FortisBC. They needed to construct a temporary bypass to allow the bridge construction, fabricate a steel carrier pipe for the new bridge, re-run the gas line over the completed bridge and remove the bypass.

From August to October, FortisBC reported problems sourcing the pipe; in November, said they had ordered the wrong pipe “up to three times (allegedly)”; then stated more delays occurred in testing and coating the pipe occurred, according to staff’s report.

The original cost estimate in the city’s budget for FortisBC’s work was $25,000, but the quote sent to staff ended up being nearly $70,000, the report says.

Work was supposed to be wrapped up on Oct. 31, 2021, and the city was under “immense pressure” to re-open Keystone Avenue to the public, who were having to take a long detour around.

It re-opened on Nov. 26, and Hanna Infrastructure will now have to re-mobilize back to site to complete the work.

The project had a total budget of $1.1 million, including $100,000 in contingency funding.

FortisBC’s delays and the city’s underestimate ate up the contingency funding, Jackman said.

“(It) just put the project on a completely different path,” he said.

City staff have been trying to get reimbursed for the cost overruns associated with FortisBC’s delays, but have so far been unable to secure any commitments.

Mayor Paul Horn brought forward a motion, which passed unanimously, to support staff’s effort to recover the costs related to FortisBC’s performance.

The additional $325,000 for the project was approved by Mission council, though Jackman said he has “no intention” of spending the full amount, and does not foresee more contingency costs.

A spokesperson for FortisBC said the original pipe was in good condition and did not need to be upgraded or changed. They said that FortisBC originally intended to replace the PVC piping, but the design of the new bridge required them to upgrade to a steel pipe.

The order, however, was delayed due to supply chain issues caused by the floods.

“We do want to bill the municipality fairly when we work on their behalf,” the spokesperson said.

“We’re working with the City of Mission to verify those costs.”