Bowen Road, bridge construction enters final stages

City's largest road works project to date will improve access to downtown for vehicles, pedestrians.

Construction on Bowen Road and the Quarterway Bridge is ready to enter final stages after a winter hiatus.

The $11.1-million project began in March 2011 and is expected to wrap up at the end of October.

The 12-metre bridge, the trigger for the entire project, is being replaced with an 18-metre span that will sit more than a metre higher than its predecessor to accommodate for a 200-year flood plain over the Millstone River.

An 800-metre stretch of Bowen Road is being converted to four lanes to better handle an estimated 16,000 vehicles that travel through the corridor daily, on par with pre-Nanaimo Parkway traffic congestion.

Much of the utility work, including sewer and storm drain improvements, relocating hydro, cable and phone components has already been completed at a cost of $2.2 million.

“We’re on budget and on time,” said Susan Clift, director of engineering and public works for the city. “You’ve had to put up with congestion and disruption and this is the final stretch. We’ll be finished this year.”

It’s the city’s most expensive and expansive road works project to date, and will provide better access for motorists and pedestrians travelling to or from downtown.

Jan Mongard, project manager, said the meat of the project, replacement of the 65-year-old Quarterway Bridge, is scheduled for mid-summer when traffic is at a minimum.

“Peak activity will be around July or August during the bridge construction,” he said.

Paving will kick off the return of construction in the next couple of weeks, followed by bridge demolition from May to June. Sidewalks and streetlights will be installed in September with final paving of the new road scheduled to end the project by Oct. 31.

Road work uses up the bulk of the budget at $6.3 million, followed by the completed utilities and the $1.2-million bridge. Bowen West Sports Field, used as a staging round for machinery and materials, will be restored with better drainage at a cost of $200,000.