Walterdale Bridge still cost Edmonton $155M, even after contractor paid damages for delays

Click to play video: 'Edmonton taxpayers paid full price for the Walterdale Bridge in spite of delays'
Edmonton taxpayers paid full price for the Walterdale Bridge in spite of delays
WATCH ABOVE: Taxpayers paid full price for the Walterdale Bridge despite fines that were levied against the contractor following major delays in the project, the City of Edmonton said Wednesday. – Jan 27, 2021

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to show that the project’s final cost included the damages paid, meaning that taxpayer dollars did not cover the full budget.

The City of Edmonton said Wednesday that the Walterdale Bridge came in on budget, including fines that were levied against the contractor following major delays in the project.

Construction started in 2013, and the bridge was initially meant to open in 2015 but didn’t until two years later in 2017.

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The contractor, Acciona-Pacer Joint Venture, was charged two kinds of penalties due to the delay: $10,000/day for site occupancy and $7,000/day for administration costs.

A woman walks across the Walterdale Bridge, in Edmonton, Alta., on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

On Wednesday, the City of Edmonton confirmed the “damages have been paid” by the contractor. It said for legal reasons, it could not share exact details around the payments.

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However, it said the final budget for the project remained at $155 million, which includes adjustments of the delay fees that have been paid to the city.

If it weren’t for those penalties, the project would have come in over budget.

Mayor Don Iveson said Wednesday he believed the accumulating fees and eventual settlement that the city reached with the contractor was fair and helped move the project along.

“We had leverage with the accumulating fees, and that helped create urgency and an incentive,” Iveson said. “Which was very much part of the continuing discussion with the contractor.

“Ultimately, there was a settlement — which council agreed to — which resolved the issue and allowed the project to be finished. And it allowed the project to be delivered within the budget.

“In that sense, the system worked,” Iveson said. “And ultimately the details of all of the give and take around that are part of a protected and confidential legal settlement.”

He said despite the project taking longer than expected, the “taxpayer was effectively protected on the cost side.”

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Click to play video: 'Price tag for Edmonton’s Walterdale Bridge Unknown'
Price tag for Edmonton’s Walterdale Bridge Unknown

In 2017, Iveson said the city was already owed about $12 million in late fees from the contractor – and work was still outstanding.

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The delays in the project came from several issues: during the spring of 2015 the opening was pushed back because the bridge’s 42 steel beams, which were made in South Korea, arrived months later than expected.

The bridge was then scheduled to open in late 2016, but it was pushed back again to mid-2017 because of weather-sensitive work, including asphalt paving, which couldn’t be done until after winter.

–with files from Emily Mertz, Global News

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