If you’re stuck waiting for the Johnson Street Bridge to lift or lower, you’re waiting longer than you should.

According to Jonathan Huggett, the director of the Johnson Street Bridge replacement project, it’s currently taking about a minute longer to raise and lower the bridge than originally planned.

The city’s contract with PCL, the company that built the bridge, requires it to open and close in 90 seconds. But Huggett says as of last June, the bridge has been opening and closing at a slower speed with each movement taking about 2-3 minutes.

“This problem first appeared last June. That’s nine months ago, why is it taking until now to get some work on it?” asks Ross Crockford with the watchdog group JohnsonStreetBridge.org.

Problems first surfaced in late June 2019, when the city noticed issues with the bridge’s hydraulic lift system. Huggett says crews noticed a problem with the hydraulic filters and found debris and pieces of plastic in the system. The bridge was shut down temporarily and new filters were installed.

“So we said out of an abundance of caution let’s slow it down, lower the pressures and we’ll see what happens,” Huggett says.

Weeks later, it was determined the filters didn’t solve the problem. The city even tried out a second replacement filter that Huggett says didn’t work either.

On April 1, 2020, the city is planning to install a new German brand of filter that is expected to solve the problem once and for all. According to Huggett, the ongoing filter issue is not costing taxpayers more.

The hydraulic lift system is covered under a two-year warranty.

“It’s up to someone else to fix it and we’re going to make sure they do fix it,” Huggett says. “You know life happens, it’s complicated, it’s machinery and we have to deal with it”.

Just last week BC’s Auditor General announced it will review the project. Victoria council unanimously supported Mayor Lisa Help’s request for the audit after the project came in years behind schedule and significantly over budget.

The $105-million Johnson Street Bridge, which replaced the old Blue Bridge, opened in March 2018.

Joe Perkins