After nearly five years of construction, the new Johnson Street Bridge in Victoria Inner Harbour is finally open and welcoming traffic.
Over the weekend, thousands of people attended the grand opening for the $105-million bridge, which links downtown Victoria with the Victoria West neighbourhood.
This is a project packed with superlatives: It is the City of Victoria’s largest infrastructure project to date, the largest single-leaf rolling lift bascule bridge in Canada, and one of the largest of its kind in the world.
The 46-metre-long bridge has three lanes for vehicles, on-road bike lanes, a multi-use pathway for pedestrians and cyclists, and a separated pedestrian-only pathway. In fact, over 50% of the bridge deck space is for pedestrians and cyclists.
When the bridge opens for marine traffic below in the harbour, a large section of the bridge deck rolls back on curved tread plates attached to the girders of the main span, which provides a greater clearance for boats and ships.
And during the nighttime hours, the bridge structure is bathed in blue light to illuminate the landmark, which can be seen from many view points around the harbour.
This crossing is one of the most important links into Victoria’s city centre. About 30,000 crossings – including vehicles, transit buses, pedestrians, and cyclists – are made on the existing 1924-built heel trunnion bascule bridge.
Although the new seismic-resilient bridge is now open, a few remaining elements that are part of the project are still being built, such as new public spaces on both ends of the bridge offering views of the harbour, new public plazas, and a new waterfront park in Victoria West.
As well, work will begin on April 15 to dismantle the existing bridge, which is located immediately south of the new bridge.
The replacement bridge originally had a $63-million budget and a completion date in September 2015.