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Estimated Cost for Third Crossing Rises to $180 Million

Last Thursday, the City of Kingston revealed the preliminary design and business plan for the proposed third crossing, which suggests that the controversial project would cost taxpayers $60 million more than initially projected.  The $180 million price tag is the result of changes to the bridge’s design and construction, land acquisition, and a sizable $34 million factored in for inflation based upon a 2019 construction start date. The revised details pertaining to a possible bridge connecting the east and west banks of the Cataraqui River were released in advance of a pair of upcoming open houses scheduled for this week where the city will solicit additional feedback enabling the development of the final draft plan for a possible third crossing.

Estimated Cost for Third Crossing Rises to $180 Million, Kingston, Cataraqui RiverReactions to the revised design and cost have been predictably split, with opponents of the proposed bridge rightfully highlighting the probability of the $180 million price tag continuing to rise, and dubious renderings (see below) showing would-be residents strolling along the bridge to fictitious destinations on either side.  Advocates however, were quick to latch onto this past weekend’s planned and widely publicized closure of the LaSalle Causeway, which resulted in lengthy commutes along highway 15, as proof that the bridge is needed, no matter the cost to taxpayers or the environment.
Estimated Cost for Third Crossing Rises to $180 Million, Kingston, Cataraqui RiverRecently, Mayor Patterson reiterated his support for the third crossing, however that endorsement comes with some definitive caveats and conditions:

constructing the Third Crossing must not require a property tax rate increase. …the city’s share of the Third Crossing must fit within our existing capital investment plans. We have several road and infrastructure projects planned for the coming years, and the Third Crossing will have to fit within this plan. That means that we will also need both the provincial and federal governments to come to the table to invest in the Third Crossing.

Based upon the current cost estimate of $180 million, plans call for both the federal and provincial governments to contribute $60 million each, leaving $60 million on the backs of local taxpayers.  That balance is optimistically estimated to cost each household an additional $18 to $20 more per year – so long as funding comes through as expected, and construction costs stay on budget.  With money on my mind, this week’s poll asks:

Will the federal and provincial governments come through with funding for the third crossing?

  • Probably, but don't expect $60 million each. (67%, 894 Votes)
  • No way, no how. (25%, 334 Votes)
  • Yes, there's no question. (8%, 114 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,342

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Personally, I’m still counting myself as one of the growing number of people who are opposed to building a third crossing.  It could very likely take longer to build, and cost more than expected, and that added debt will be ours to service, regardless of whether or not you ever step foot on the bridge.  Considering the significant long-term implications for us all, perhaps it’s time we start giving serious thought to deciding the fate of the third crossing by referendum.  That way, similar to the fate of the casino, we can be assured that the decision pertaining to this unprecedented infrastructure project is made by us, rather than for us via City Council.  And if by chance the project is given the green light and funding comes through, let’s keep discussing the role that tolls on the third crossing should play in offsetting those aforementioned unforeseen costs, as well as long-term maintenance and upkeep.

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Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

4 thoughts on “Estimated Cost for Third Crossing Rises to $180 Million

  • April 24, 2017 at 12:20 pm
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    Trudeau has pledged 120 billion for muncipal infrastructure. The bridge is a relative drop in the bucket to what this areas proportional share should be. It will be a different provincial government making the decision so hard to say there.

    Curious about the “people who don’t use it have to pay for it” rhetoric (though the report is pretty clear on the benefits to those who don’t commute accross). Why the bridge and nothing else? There is a long list of things that compare to $15m cash and $15m financed that the city has done. If we have a referendum on every significant project, no on would end up with anything they want, as its very rare a majority see direct benefit from any single project. Maybe we should have a referendum to see if the entire population will support the huge increase in spending on transit that a small % of the population uses?

  • April 24, 2017 at 1:41 pm
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    A referendum on this issue would not be useful since it would most likely pit one side of the city against the other. I understand that those who live in the East End view this as an equity issue considering that all of the major services are on the “other side” of the river. The other issue is that given all of the residential construction going up along Highway 15 the city is being disingenuous allowing such development because “someday” it will be better connected by the Third Crossing.

    That said population projections for the City of Kingston over the next 10 years do not look promising. Kingston’s population grew by a paltry 700 people since the last census – one of the lowest rates in all of Canada. Unless the City can attract something more than government and education sector jobs I don’t see that changing. Will a bridge do that? I don’t know. The other question is what strings will come with higher level government money. I have heard, only through rumours, that the feds will transfer the causeway to the city in exchange for money to build the Third Crossing. This means huge maintenance bills which will saddle taxpayers with higher mil rates.

    So on an equity issue I think the bridge is a good idea, but economically i think it poses the potential to become a huge albatross around the city’s neck.

  • April 24, 2017 at 2:19 pm
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    Just think what an uproar there would be if both Bath Rd and Princess St were either closed or had tolls applied, leaving just Front Road and the 401 as access to the west end of Kingston. This would be an equivalent distance as Hwy 2 and the 401 using Hwy 15. I think people would be clamoring for another access route in that case. There would certainly be no calls for a referendum. A third crossing to the east end is long overdue. The population is growing on the east side along with more job opportunities coming to the business park if companies know that there is an extra access route. The east end residents deserve the same consideration as the rest of the city.

  • April 27, 2017 at 2:59 pm
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    Support the crossing at http://www.kingstonscrossing.ca . The city has spent millions upgraded John Counter Blvd and its time to complete the city wide east/west connection to rid ourselves of the funnel downtown. Million dollar studies, master traffic plans, active transportation plans, emergency service plans, all point to the crossing being needed. No need for anymore debate or referendums. Running the causeway near capacity and forcing thousands of commuters downtown will ultimately lead to its failure and need for major repairs sooner then we think. Imagine the havoc that will create. The time is ripe for Kingston’s crossing.

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