Construction workers lift one of the 290-tonne steel rings for the new Johnson Street Bridge at the Point Hope Shipyard using the giant crane the Dynamic Beast on Friday morning. The rings are being placed onto the barge and will begin to be installed at the new bridge site Saturday. (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

Johnson Street Bridge’s steel rings, lower counterweight lifted into place over weekend

Victoria’s downtown bridge had been projected to look almost done by Christmas

By the end of the weekend, the new Johnson Street Bridge will start taking shape in its new home.

The Dynamic Beast, a giant crane capable of lifting over 800 metric tonnes, began lifting the 290-tonne steel rings on to the barge Friday morning at Point Hope Shipyard in Victoria West. Saturday morning, the crane will position itself under the existing bridge, closing off the waterway, and lift the lower counterweight into place, followed by the north ring. The south ring will be lifted and installed on Sunday before the crane barge heads back to Vancouver, and the crane will return in February to lift the main span where it will be bolted in place.

In October, project manager Jonathan Huggett, said the rings could be in place by Nov. 10 for the $105-million bridge. In August, he said the bridge would “look almost complete” by Christmas. The bridge is expected to be open to the public in March after many delays.

On Friday he said the public should plan to use alternative routes over the weekend, as the bridge will be inaccessible for several hours at a time. But putting these large steel components into place is a major step forward, something Huggett is excited to see.

“It’s a big visual step. For the first time, people are going to start seeing the pieces of the bridge in their final location,” he said. “It’s exciting: you train for this all your life, you put projects together like this, and it’s a high point in any engineer’s career to do this.”

MORE STORIES on the Johnson Street Bridge replacement

The process cannot be rushed, Huggett added.

“Nobody’s going to lift anything down here until they’re absolutely ready. All safety concerns are done, so they’ll wait their time to lift it properly.”

Such details as the angle of the steel parts, the location of each component on the barge, to the direction of workers pulling their ropes has been carefully calculated over the last five months.

“When you do major lifts in construction, you take enormous care,” Huggett said. “This whole thing is choreographed. They’ll make it look simple, because these guys are professionals. They know what they’re doing, but you don’t do it easily.”

Huggett has suggested Mermaid Wharf as the best spot for the public to watch the work take place over the weekend.

Updated lift schedule:

  • Saturday: 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. – crane barge will position itself under the existing bridge and lift the lower counterweight; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – north ring lifted into place
  • Sunday: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – crane barge lifts south ring into place and departs

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

Johnson Street bridge

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Construction workers lift one of the 290-tonne steel rings for the new Johnson Street Bridge at the Point Hope Shipyard using the giant crane the Dynamic Beast on Friday morning. The rings are being placed onto the barge and will begin to be installed at the new bridge site Saturday. (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

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