If you have ever visited my hometown of Victoria in British Columbia, there were probably two landmark structures that caught your eye—the Parliament Buildings on Belleville Street and the Johnson Street "Blue Bridge" leading to Esquimalt.
The impressive Legislative Buildings still stand and have since 1897, officially opening in February of 1898. Sadly, however, the old blue bridge erected in 1926 will soon disappear, replaced by a new state-of-the-art bridge, currently standing alongside. Ironically, there is an interesting connection between these two landmarks—budget—and therein lies this tale.
The Parliament Buildings were designed by architect Francis Rattenbury, who won a competition to design them under the pseudonym of “ABC Architect.”
Parliament had initially been housed in buildings known as the “bird cages” because of their unusual and rather ugly appearance. So you would think that people would have been delighted to have the new grand structure overlooking the harbor.
Not so! The erection of the buildings had vastly exceeded its original budget of $500,000. Final cost of construction came in at $923,882, and completion had also been delayed by two years.
Almost 30 years later in 1926, the original “blue bridge” was constructed. And despite a long-held nostalgic affection for the old bridge, in 2009 it was decided by the powers that be that updating the bridge to today’s seismic standards would cost too much and a brand-new bridge would be cheaper to construct.
But the final cost of the new bridge turned out to be almost three times the original estimate:
Isn't it strange how two Victoria landmarks are connected by “budget issues”—a big topic of controversy back in the 1890s and an equally controversial subject over 100 years later in 2018?
These problems of budget are not restricted to Victoria. I discovered some fascinating global facts about this topic. For instance, statistically at least 85% of every construction project around the world will go over budget.
This happens because certain things are seldom factored into the original estimate, including:
All adding up to a lack of foresight!
So, as for Victoria, what do you think? Do you agree that the elegant Legislative Buildings were well worth the extra expense despite being over budget?
And how do you feel about the new bridge, about which there are still ongoing discussions?
The problem now seems to concern its name. In point of fact, it leads off Pandora Street and NOT Johnson Street, so should it be called the Pandora Bridge or will it forever be known as “the blue bridge”?
Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.