After delays, budget overruns and endless controversy, Victoria’s Johnson Street Bridge replacement project is finally nearing completion. But as the final pieces are being assembled, questions are being asked about what appear to be plates bolted to the bridge’s rings.
The builders say the two steel plates are just part of the building process but critics say they aren’t so confident.
The plates, which are less than a metre in size, are bolted to the bridge’s rings and are not part of the original plans.
Ross Crockford, a local critic and one of the founders of johnsonstreetbridgeorg.blogspot.ca, says the steel rings have left him with questions about the long-term durability of the bridge.
“If you were buying any other kind of product somewhere and it was brand new and it arrived with a big patch on it, especially in a place that is very important to the structure, you would wonder why?” Crockford said.
The plates are due to a challenge during the fabrication process. The area is full of complicated welding and the problem was identified in December 2016. It took a team of engineers months to find a fix that would pass quality assurance.
Last May, a hole was cut in the ring, the area strengthened and a patch was applied.
The bridge’s project manager said it’s a normal occurrence during a project of this kind.
“There was a lot of people [who] studied this, looked at this. Some of the guys that looked at it, for example, drafted the welding code that’s used in the United States to weld all bridges. So these were not newbies. These were people who have probably each one 40 years experience of welding steel bridges,” Jonathan Huggett said.
A representative from the bridge’s design firm said there is no design flaw and the firm is confident the final product with the plate addition meets or exceeds the original design strength.
“It would’ve been more attractive to see the plain, smooth, expansive steel. We’ll see how it looks when we get the lighting and the bridge is finished,” Victoria City Coun. Geoff Young said.
The project manager says the final look will be a bit different as the holes are sealed and more paint is applied. The fix will also not affect the budget or timeline.