Over 500 people attended the opening of Johnson Street Bridge, the City of Victoria’s biggest infrastructure project to date. Spencer Pickles/VICTORIA NEWS

BRIDGEMANIA! Victoria celebrates the biggest infrastructure project in its history

Over 100 million dollars and 10 years later — it’s finally here!

You’d think it was a rock concert.

Around noon, over 500 people anxiously waited for the Johnson Street Bridge to officially open.

Members of the crowd had to be reminded to stand back, as they weaved around each other, straining their necks to capture a glimpse of the new bridge.

Construction on the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the City of Victoria began in May 2013.

The new bridge will support 30,000 crossings a day including vehicles, local transit, pedestrians, and cyclists.

“We’ve been waiting ten years for this, so another ten minutes won’t kill us,” said Amanda Shultz, who waited patiently among the crowd.

Food trucks, coffee stands, musicians and vintage cars lined the streets to entertain the revelers as they waited.

“I think it’s fantastic, a long time coming,” said Harold Sleunwhite who has lived in Victoria for 36 years.

“I don’t come downtown often but when I do it’s always this route. It will definitely help rush hour traffic.”

Sleunwhite offered a unique suggestion for what to do with the old Blue Bridge—even though it has new, offshore owners. He said, “If they were to cut some pieces out of it and give it to a sculpture to make something decent, it would stand as a memory for a lifetime.”

Mayor Lisa Helps officiated the opening and thanked the long list of people involved—from the project manager to the builders.

Mayor Helps specifically thanked the Songhees nation elders who blessed the bridge, adding, “I wonder and worry about all the other bridges that haven’t been blessed.”

People cheered and clapped during the 90 seconds it took for the bridge to be lowered. Then, as a community, the crowd walked over the bridge, taking photos and marveling at the structure.

“It’s 100 years looking into the future and it’s a really exciting day. This marks not only the completion of the bridge but Victoria’s future,” Mayor Helps told Victoria News.

“This bridge project got off to a bit of a rocky start and we brought it back under control. What we see now is a different way of doing current projects — like the fire hall and Crystal Pool… So it’s a lesson learned and going forward we’re taking a different approach to those projects which I think will fare very well.”

READ MORE: ‘Hello New, Goodbye Blue’: How to navigate Johnson Street Bridge festivities.

Jeremy Loveday was excited to see this project finally come to fruition. “It’s a new chapter in the City’s future. Say goodbye to the old Blue Bridge and the memories it holds, and say hello to this next chapter,” he told Victoria News.

“I’m glad the local First Nations have played a role in opening this bridge and they have blessed it, and I look forward to moving forward with them in a good way.”

The public seemed very pleased with the outcome of the project — over 100 million dollars and 10 years in the making.

As a group of tourists, unaware of the event’s significance, headed down the side pathway of the structure, a local man excitedly corrected them, “C’mon, man, don’t you know there’s a new bridge?”.

The community celebration will continue until 5 p.m. At 9 p.m. the bridge is expected to open to traffic.

Read our five-part series on the project, ‘Bridging the Gap’, by Tim Collins starting here.

anna.james@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Police tape off tent city at Oak Bay’s Cattle Point

Vehicle access restricted to waterfront segment of Uplands Park

‘Repeat test fails’ clogging up the system, says ICBC

Increased driver education key to shorter wait times, safer roads

Local experts share wealth of tree knowledge at free Oak Bay event

“Healthy Trees, Healthy Communities” seminar at Windsor Pavilion focused on how to preserve District’s urban forest

Victoria’s Clean Team collects 600 used needles in a week

Number of used needles found downtown steadily increasing over 12 years

Supportive cancer care centre highlights Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Almost 30,000 people in B.C. will get diagnosed with cancer this year

B.C. NDP retreats again on empty-home tax for urban areas

Rate reduced for all Canadians, dissident mayors to get annual meeting

Find your future at Black Press career fair in Victoria

More than 70 booths expected at Bay Street Armoury on Oct. 25

B.C. high school teacher faces sexual assault charges

A Mt. Boucherie teacher has been charged with child luring, sexual exploitation and sexual assault.

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: You can never have enough shoes

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Former B.C. cop sentenced to jail ‘in the community’ after caught in Creep Catchers sting

Dario Devic pleaded guilty after getting caught up in Surrey Creep Catcher sting in Whalley in 2016

Qualicum Beach gaming company awarded virtual reality game of the year

Cloudhead Games lauded as it teases new project with ‘industry giant’

5 races to watch in B.C.’s municipal elections this Saturday

This year’s election results across more than 160 cities in B.C. will start pouring in after polls close Saturday at 8 p.m.

Annual pace of inflation slows to 2.2 per cent in September: Statistics Canada

Statistics Canada said Friday the consumer price index in September was up 2.2 per cent from a year ago compared with a year-over-year increase of 2.8 per cent in August

Most Read