Starting in mid-May, Victoria drivers won't be able to travel downtown on the Bay Street bridge until the end of October as upgrades get underway.

The city says in order to complete upgrades including necessary repairs, resurfacing and painting work, the bridge's eastbound lane will be closed for a little more than five months.

Traffic will not alternate on the bridge, also known as the Point Ellice Bridge, meaning it will effectively become a one-way road until work is completed.

Staff looked at multiple options for managing traffic during the closure and decided shutting down the eastbound lane will impact traffic flow the least.

"We were actually quite surprised ourselves because the common perception is that everybody drives in eastbound in the morning and everybody leaves westbound in the evening," said Philip Bellefontaine, Assistant Director of Transportation for the City of Victoria. "When we looked at our traffic data, those volumes are actually much more balanced."

Pedestrians will still be able to cross the bridge during construction, but cyclists will have to dismount and walk their bikes across.

"Full bridge closures will still be necessary on rare occasions during the project and will be communicated as information becomes available," the city said in a news release.

BC Transit has rerouted bus service and first responders have been consulted by the city.

"We've been talking to VicPD and the fire department and they were a consideration in our planning, because it is an important route to get the fire department over into Victoria West," said Bellefontaine.

Traffic signals at the Johnson Street Bridge will be adjusted to help accommodate an expected surge in westbound traffic.

The work on the bridge is being performed by Seismic 2000 at an estimated budget of $6.1-million. The provincial and federal governments are each kicking in $1.2-million for the project.

The last time the bridge received a seismic upgrade was in 2001-02, including reinforcement of piers and replacement of bridge components.

Business and residents near the bridge area will still be able to access their stores and homes, the city said.