Bridging the Divide: Choosing a design for a Capital City landmark


WATCH: It’s out with Old Blue and in with something new for the Johnson Street Bridge. Ceilidh Millar reports. 

The City of Victoria had their work cut out for them when it came to selecting a design for the new Johnson Street Bridge back in 2009.

“The design that was chosen has proven very complex to build,” said Victoria City Cou. Geoff Young who was in favour of repairing the old bridge.

The build was complex because of the scale of the bridge and the one-of-a-kind design.

The new bridge is the largest single-leaf bascule bridge in Canada, and one of the largest in the world.

“The novelty is this pathway,” said journalist and historian Ross Crockford, while referring to the rings on the bridge. “This little sort of catwalk that sticks out there that goes through the wheels. That’s very unusual for movable bridges because most of them have a centre axel.”

The main support is two outer rings with exposed counterweights, weighing in at more than 290-tonnes each.

The cradle support for the lift span allows the public to see the operating mechanism of the bridge.

Currently, visitors can only pass through halfway until the old bridge is removed.

“Pedestrians will use the trail on the north side of the bridge until we can excavate out where the old bridge was,” explained project manager Jonathan Huggett. “Then we will join the pedestrian walkway into it.”

The eye-catching concept is the brainchild of WilkinsonEyre, a U.K. based architectural firm, whose projects include the Gateshead Millennium Bridge in Newcastle and the Twin Sails Bridge in Poole.

“They came up with a very sophisticated design,” Huggett explained.

Some design adjustments have been made to the bridge since the original concept was presented.

“It’s just kind of a tourist attraction,” Crockford said. “It’s frivolous, but we’ve probably spent an extra $10 million to $20 million just to have that little catwalk.”

“I think that a more traditional design, frankly if we’d taken the advice of people who had an opinion, the voters, I think we would have ended up with a less costly new bridge,” Young explained.

It’s a bridge that will ultimately become a symbol of the Capital City for future generations.

Ceilidh MillarCeilidh Millar

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