Johnson Street Bridge’s purety + simplicity of engineering is ‘nice’ says Sebastian Ricard, the English designer whose new bridge would replace it






It’s been more than a year since Victorians were first introduced to the design chosen to replace the Johnson Street Bridge.

Since then, there’s been a lot of bumps in the road: petitioners thwarted City plans to borrow money for the $63-million project; in response, City staff re-examined the possibility of fixing the 86-year-old bridge; project costs escalated dramatically and now the City aims to borrow even more – but not without public consent through referendum.

Now, with the vote date mere weeks away, City staff and politicians are once again reminding people of the amenities and esthetics offered by the new bridge design.

“People are starting to get excited about it,” said Mayor Dean Fortin, who is well into his Vote Yes campaign.

The design, by WilkinsonEyre Architects, is billed as a “landmark” bridge.

“When I was looking at designing the project, it was very important to respect the previous bridge and try to refer back to it,” said Sebastian Ricard of WilkinsonEyre.

“What is nice about (the Johnson Street Bridge) is the purity and simplicity of the engineering and what we wanted to recreate was the same effect in a modern way.”

The rolling bascule bridge rotates to its lifted positions on two large wheels located under the bridge span.

The design offers some rare bells and whistles, such as a pedestrian pathway running through the wheels.

Above deck run two lateral beams which rise and peak at a height of 10 metres on the downtown side.

These heavy peaks form the counterweights used to help raise the bridge.

Only half the weight is carried at this high level.

The other half is designed to sit below deck.

No word yet on the new colour set to replace the familiar blue, but lighting will likely play a role.

“There are illuminated aspects built into the project in terms of night lighting, which from a functional perspective is for safety, but from an esthetic perspective is value-added,” said City spokesperson Katie Josephson.

Aside from esthetics, the new bridge design offers some improvement for cyclists, and people using wheelchairs.

They include on-road cycling lanes, a multi-use trail and an end to the winding, steep pathways into Vic West.

On the south side of the bridge, a pedestrian deck sits lower than the bridge’s road surface, providing views of the Inner Harbour.

It connects to the Songhees walkway, and to the future Harbour Pathway, planned for downtown.

The remaining question is whether the new bridge is worth its $77 million price tag.

Opponents argue a partial repair of the Johnson Street Bridge could be cheaper.

Some heritage advocates say the “iconic” 86-year-old bridge is worth preserving as a reminder of our city’s industrial roots.


Roszan Holmen:

Victoria News:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Page A5






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