Dartmouth Bridge Terminal has options to be down-scaled

Architect Troy Scott worries Halifax council may opt out of pedestrian bridge


The tendering process for the expanded Bridge Terminal in Dartmouth continues apace, with about a dozen prospective bidders attending a mandatory job site meeting this morning. The companies range from Dexter Construction, the largest construction firm in the area, to several smaller firms reaching big, and include at least one unnamed company that previously has worked exclusively on the offshore oil platforms---that work is now drying up and the company is expanding its horizons, explain city officials. Such competition will hopefully bring the project costs down.

Still, the tender was structured with a "shopping list" of components that Halifax council can choose to include or not, depending on costs, with the idea of keeping the project within a total project price tag of $9.5 million. Included in that list is landscaping, some park-like amenities above the terminal proper and, most significantly, a curving bridge that stretches from the upper levels along side Dartmouth High School and Thistle Street and Nantucket Avenue over the terminal area to two stairways and an elevator that lower to the bus bays. This bridge allows the bulk of the local pedestrian traffic to access the terminal without crossing bus traffic.

"My biggest fear is that we're going to lose the bridge," says Troy Scott, an architect with Sperry & Partners, a Dartmouth firm that designed the terminal. The bridge is "what it's all about. Otherwise, it's a fence" along the top of an 18-foot cliff that will be exposed after the hill is dug out to make room for the terminal.

The bridge adds about $2 million in costs to the project constitutes about $2 million of the project costs [edited for clarity, 4:20pm], says Scott. Without it, pedestrians will have to cross the bus lanes where they enter Nantucket and Thistle and "Dartmouth loses" a signature architectural feature---the upper park and three lantern-like entry points above the stairwells and elevator shafts.

In addition to the shopping list, Scott revealed at the meeting that the rock to be excavated at the site is entirely pyritic---that is, it contains acids that can present problems. Such rock can be disposed of in the harbour, and the developer of the nearby King's Wharf project in downtown Dartmouth has agreed to accept the rock, for a fee, as he needs fill to fill in part of the harbour at that location. It's unknown if that disposal will add to Bridge Terminal costs or not.

For tendering purposes, the Bridge Terminal project is coupled with a smaller Highfield Park terminal rebuild, with the aim of attaining economies of scale. The companies will present bids by August 31; it will take about two weeks to process the bids, and Halifax council will award the winning bid in late September. Work will likely begin in October, but as concrete work isn't typically done in the winter, there may be a bit of down time until spring.

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