Victoria’s new Johnson Street bridge is one step closer to reality after concrete spans were put in place – as the cost of the project climbed to an estimated $100-million.

The bridge was shut down to traffic for an hour Monday as the concrete spans were installed by the massive, 600-tonne Arctic Tuk barge crane. It will remain closed to marine traffic until Friday.

“The piles we have to put in to protect the bridge from collisions is going to be upwards of $4-million so you can see we’re probably right on $100-million at that point, and other odds and ends,” said project director Jonathan Huggett. “So when you look at it, you pretty much know it’s at least $100-million.”

The previous estimate for the cost of the project was set at $97-million two months ago, but delays have caused it to become more expensive.

Members of a group opposed to the new bridge say the cost could even go higher.

“It’s going to be more in the neighbourhood of $125-million, and the question for Victoria residents is where does all that extra money come from?” said Ross Crockford.

Criticism has surrounded the pricey project and its seemingly endless delays, including issues with steel fabrication in China that pushed construction back by 10 months.

The new bridge was originally set to go up by the end of this month – but instead, residents won’t see it completed for another year-and-a-half.

But Huggett says part of the costly delays can be attributed to the unique nature of the bridge, which spans Victoria’s bustling Inner Harbour,.

“This is unlike many bridges,” he said. “Most bridges that you deal with are fixed bridges, so the fact that this opens changes the whole nature of the bridge.”

The project’s next major milestone will come next summer, when the steel beams are finally installed.

Other upgrades this year include short-term bridge lifting and some paving work.

With a report from CTV Vancouver Island’s Zahra Premji