Three hundred tonnes of steel was moved on Thursday afternoon, marking the beginning of the end for Victoria’s iconic blue Johnson Street Bridge.
Local resident Diane Bell said she feels sad seeing the bridge dismantled.
“I’m feeling bittersweet about it. I had tears in my eyes about it an hour ago. And seeing a part of history. But she’s had a long life,” Bell said.
There are four pieces of the bridge left. The blue counterweight truss is first to go. The blue tower is next, then the remaining spans will be gone Sunday.
And there are plenty watching from the sidelines, including Toronto resident David Kingsland.
“It’s fascinating. I’m an engineer. So, I’m trying to figure out what the angles are, where the metal is, where the weight is, why when the bridge goes up, does the rope never get pulled into the water,” Kingsland said.
Tommy Sargeant heard about the work on the old bridge, while touring British Columbia, and decided to come to see for himself.
“We heard about this on our tour, on the Canadian Rockies tour. The guide told us about this, we thought we’d come down and have a watch,” Sargeant said.
The old bridge opened up on Jan. 11, 1924 and was built to improve access between Victoria and industrial lands on the west side of the harbour.
That same landscape looks much different 93 years later.
Some like Jen Powley prefer the old bridge.
“I like it, but I like historic stuff. So, I wish they kept the old one,” Powley said.
While watching from the sidelines, Vivian Kingsland said changes are inevitable.
“It’s obviously a piece of Victoria’s history disappearing. Which is sad, but it happens everywhere,” Kingsland said.
As the last pieces are dismantled, the Victoria skyline is changed forever with the city’s new bascule bridge stealing the show, said City of Victoria spokesperson Bill Eisenhauer.
“After Sunday, there will only be memories of the old Johnson Street Bridge. I’m sure there will be pictures online of the old bridge, But yes, the new skyline, the look of the new bridge from all sides. That is what people will see,” Eisenhauer said.
The project is not quite finished yet. Work will continue through the summer on the plazas under the new bridge.