Victoria bridge nears completion following weekend windstorm delay

The 470-tonne main bridge span for the new Johnson Street Bridge was lifted into place Sunday, but the old bridge remained closed to traffic Monday after high winds delayed the project by one day.

470-tonne main bridge span for the new Johnson Street Bridge lifted into place Sunday

Project manager Jonathan Huggett said a span installation on the Johnson Street Bridge in Victoria was delayed by one day because high winds made it too dangerous to lift on Saturday. (CHEK News)

The new Johnson Street Bridge took on its finished look as its main bridge deck span was lifted into place Sunday, but weekend weather delays kept the old bridge closed to all traffic.

The old bridge was expected to reopen by 5 p.m. Monday

High winds on Saturday delayed the placement of the final major component of the estimated $105-million bridge because it created unsafe conditions for operating the Dynamic Beast barge crane.

"The cables were designed for [winds of] 20 kilometres per hour and we were seeing gusts as high as 70 kilometres per hour and you can't have a 470-tonne load swinging on a cable with a 70-kilometre-per-hour wind blowing at you," said Jonathan Huggett, the bridge project manager for the City of Victoria.

"A disaster would have happened."

Huggett said crews worked overnight Sunday bolting the main deck span to the steel rings that will lift the bridge to allow marine traffic to pass once the bridge is complete. The installation by crane of a smaller infill span between the rings and the main deck was scheduled for Monday.  

 

While the bridge now looks complete, additional bolting, testing and adjustments are required before it officially opens March 31.

Huggett said the new bridge will be lifted for the first time around Feb. 4. 

"It will take four or five hours to lift it because you don't just press a button," he said. 

"You lift it a few degrees, you go around and you walk every part of it and make sure it's OK. If it's OK you do another two or three degrees."

Design flaw denied

While Huggett said responses to the new bridge's appearance are mainly positive, he was critical of a local magazine article that said a design flaw led to the addition of a bolted-on plate on each of the bridge's two 290-tonne steel rings.

"It's an attempt to scare people unnecessarily," he said of the report published in Focus. The plates address "fabrication challenges" not a design error, he said.

"... There are always hundreds of nonconformance reports on every project," he said.

"That's the way projects are done and you find the things you're not happy with, you document them and you fix them. This is just part of that normal process."


With files from CBC Radio One's On the Island