A cyclist riding across the new Johnson Street bridge looks over as an excavator with a percussion hammer chips away at the giant concrete counterweight from the old Blue Bridge. Don Denton/Black Press

With the new Johnson Street Bridge operational, here what’s next

Plazas, walkways and adjustments to lights among the projects still in the works

The new “blue” bridge is up and running, but the project isn’t done yet.

On Thursday, the City of Victoria’s Johnson Street Bridge project director Jonathan Huggett and director of engineering and public works, Fraser Work, broke down the whats and whens of continued construction on the new bridge and the surrounding area.

The duo started their presentation at council’s committee of the whole meeting with a time-lapsed video of the construction and deconstruction of the bridges, which prompted Mayor Lisa Helps to quip, “If only it had gone that quickly, hey Mr. Huggett?”

Huggett then reviewed what still needed to be done with the the old bridge.

Most of the remains of the old bridge were carried off to Surrey for recycling, but some parts, including five large pieces of steel, still remain due to the fact that builders had less time with the Dynamic Beast crane than anticipated because of high winds. The crane is in high demand and will be back on Sunday, May 22 to remove the remaining steel.

The 850-tonne concrete counterweight is also still here, but is being chiseled away at using a large jack hammer attached to an excavator, a job that has caused some public confusion. Huggett said because the excavator is on a lower platform, the only way it can get out is by chipping away and removing the concrete, a project that should take about another week.

As for the new bridge and the surrounding areas, upcoming work includes :

– construction of the south side pedestrian walkway, which will entail excavation on the east and west approaches of the walkway. The targeted completion date is the end of June.

– Establishing the southwest plaza, which will require bringing down a current wall to an elevation of 5.5 m, and then tiering the land

– preparing the east side park for construction of the David Foster Walkway, which includes determining what contaminants may be in the soil at the Northern Junk building next to Reeson Park. A statement from the City noted there are heavy contaminants in the soil, including excessive metals that can’t be disposed of on Vancouver Island. Construction on the pathway is set to being in June.

– publishing a final version of the operation and maintenance manual of the bridge. A 2,700-page draft version is in the works.

Stantec Environmental Ltd. was contracted to look into Coun. Jeremy Loveday’s concerns that the new bridge’s lights may affect salmon fry. The company concluded the lights may increase visibility for predators, and recommended considering a reduction in temperature and intensity of the lighting under the bridge. Stantec is working on a report comparing the old bridge’s light levels to the new one.

As with all large projects, Huggett said, a final deficiency list is being worked on. When Coun. Marianne Alto asked whether any of the deficiencies were of great concern, Hugget said not only were they not, the City would not be responsible for them. He cited some painting that needed to be finished and the tweaking of an expansion joint that needs correction.

At this point, Huggett and Work said, they are confident the June 30 deadline will be met to hand over the control of the bridge to City staff.


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