02/03/2014 08:57 EST | Updated 04/05/2014 05:59 EDT

Burrard Bridge down to 4 lanes, then 3 as repairs begin

Vancouver's Burrard Street Bridge got a bit cozier starting 5 a.m. PT Monday morning, as one of the three northbound vehicle lanes was closed for structural repair work.

Two lanes in each direction — four in total — will remain open for the month of February, but the City of Vancouver will close another lane in March, leaving just three lanes of traffic open: two northbound, and one southbound.

The lane closures will allow work crews to replace 27 bearings and 19 expansion joints, to perform repairs to concrete, and to conduct inspections of the bridge deck.

The work is expected to last until July.

On its "Road Ahead" project site, the City of Vancouver says the bridge is 81-years-old and "in need of critical maintenance and structural repairs," and that the temporary lane closures allowing work to be done will help ensure "that the bridge is safe and in a good state of repair for many years to come."

The city is advising drivers to consider alternate routes such as the Granville Bridge.

The city also said that "full access will be maintained" to the pedestrian sidewalk and the two separated bike lanes on the Burrard Street Bridge.