The closure of the 102nd Avenue bridge over Groat Road caused massive traffic problems for people driving to and from the Canada Day fireworks Tuesday night.
City officials closed that part of 102nd Avenue on July 1 to allow crews to take down the old bridge and construct a new one, work that is scheduled to take 15 months.
Michele Caldarella, who lives near the bridge, said angry drivers were stuck near her home last night.
“Lots of people honking their horns, somebody almost getting hit by a bus going down Stony Plain Road,” she said.
Every Canada Day, thousands of people line various viewpoints along the river valley to watch the fireworks. Caldarella wonders why the bridge had to close on Tuesday.
“I don't know if it was the best timing, maybe they could have waited until today,” she said.
Allan Bartman, general supervisor with the city’s transportation department, says the city has learned from the experience.
“We would look at perhaps different alternatives and so on knowing what we know now of course,” he said.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said Canada Day was chosen to avoid sudden disruption to people’s work commutes. He says the bridge closure wasn’t the only reason for all the traffic.
“Traffic was backed up because of massive amounts of volume and massive amounts of pedestrians,” he said.
“It wasn’t just because that bridge was closed … everybody moving in any direction last night took a very long time to get home.”
Bartman said that signs have been up in the area for some time but the city wasn't expecting so much traffic on 102nd Avenue late last night.
Work did happen on the bridge after Tuesday’s closure, Bartman said. EPCOR crews started to take down power lines.