Thousands cross over Victoria’s new Johnson Street Bridge on opening day

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WATCH: A project that once divided residents is now bringing the community together. Ceilidh Millar reports. 

The opening of the new Johnson Street Bridge was a day many had been waiting for.

“I would like to call for the bridge to be lowered for the first official time,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps during the bridge unveiling ceremony this afternoon.

A ten year project, boiling down to ninety-seconds of anticipation as the bridge lowered into place.

More than 5,000 people gathered to make those first steps over the bridge, as the Capital City crosses over into the future.

“It’s brilliant and beautiful,” said one woman.

“It makes us look like a modern city,” explained another.

Today’s unveiling comes as a relief to those who have been part of the process since the beginning.

“We now have our bridge into the future,” said Victoria City Councillor Chris Coleman. “Old blue did a great job for almost 100 years, but times have changed and we need greater capacity.”
“People are wanting to celebrate,” explained Helps. “They’re wanting to celebrate that we’ve turned a corner, that we’re looking towards the future and really celebrate this bridge that is going to be here for generations.”
After years of un-budgeted expenses, the project wracked up a bill of more than $105-million.
“It’s a shame it cost so much,” said one woman we spoke with.
“The process probably could have been a bit better,” explained a man walking over the new bridge. “But ten years from now, we probably will have forgotten about that I think.”
Brian Simmons from johnsonstreetbridge.org, who advocated for the Blue Bridge to be repaired, believes the conversation is far from over.

“You don’t really describe infrastructure as pretty,” Simmons explained. “You usually look for reliability and cost-effectiveness. We don’t know if it’s going to be reliable.”

The 94-year-old Blue Bridge was officially closed to pedestrians this afternoon.

The first vehicle is expected to cross the new Johnson Street Bridge at 9:00 p.m. on Friday.

Ceilidh MillarCeilidh Millar

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