CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


In reality, it is (or was) a concrete structure that allows Kenmount Road traffic to flow uninterrupted over Topsail Road into or out of St. John's. But the Overpass has taken on a life of its own by as an icon in the popular culture of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The actual structure was built in 1959, the first overpass in Newfoundand. But it has come to symbolize a dividing line between urban and rural, the haves and the have-nots, townie and bayman. A mythical line in the sand.

And starting this summer the wall came down, part of a $5.6 million makeover.

The overpass is down. The townie/bayman Berlin wall has fallen. To paraphrase Reagan, "Miss Dunderdale, tear down that overpass!" #nl - @markcritch on twitter June 23

It may not be the Berlin Wall, but the dismantling of "The Overpass" has the potential for strengthening relations between St. John's and the rest of the province. The bridge, which has symbolized the divide between the city and the remainder of Newfoundland for decades, was knocked down Thursday morning. It was taken down to make way for a bigger highway into and out of town. - the National Post

Scroll over the image to see pictures taken, starting in May and including June 23 when the wall - Berlin or not - came down.

Ed Lake, was also out on June 23 chronicling the Overpass's end for a book he is writing on its history. Here are some of his photos from that day. Click on them to see the full versions.

1. Jackhammers' first breakthrough at 0728 hours.
2. First light breaks through ceiling - driving surface at 0730 Hours.
3. Full width breakthrough at 0742 hours.
4. Total breakthrough at 0757 hours.
5. Scraping up the remains at 1330 Hours 
(Photos courtesy Ed Lake)

It didn't take long for the old Overpass to come down, and it didn't take long for rebuilding to begin. Here's footage shot in September.

Like one of those seminars where they tear you down and then build you up again, once the Overpass went down, construction workers quickly started the long process of replacing it with a newer, bigger version.

Here's a shot taken earlier this week.

overpassyesterdayframe.jpgThe new overpass will be four lanes wide on Kenmount Road and six lanes on Topsail Road. Transportation Minister Tom Hedderson said the Overpass wasn't being replaced because it was falling down, but because its size wasn't compatible with mushrooming population growth on the Avalon Peninsula.

What does this mean for the Overpass's future as an icon? Many people were already confused about where the Overpass actually was -- mixing it up with the more glamourous Manuel's Access Road at the Trans-Canada Highway.
And if there's more access between urban and rural areas, will the mythical line in the sand wash away?

With the overpass gone in Paradise how will townies know where St John's ends? Will @CBCNL and @StJohnsTelegram know where news ends now? -Twitter

There are signs, literally in some cases, that the Overpass will continue having a life of its own.

The overpass as a political beach ball: Take Danny Dumaresque for example. His reference to the overpass created one of the few controversies to come out of an otherwise low-key 2011 provincial election.

"I would have to say to the mayor of this great city that there are a hell of a lot more priorities outside the overpass that need to be addressed before we start forking more money over to the City of St. John's," - Danny Dumaresque, Liberal candidate - The Isles of Notre Dame.

Invoking the Overpass didn't do Dumaresque much good. He lost.

The overpass as a brand:Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for instasignwithframe.jpg
References to the Overpass are popular in local marketing. The name has popped up in billboard ads for a Mistaken Point fossil exhibit at the Johnson GeoCentre.

And there's a theatre company called Beyond the Overpass Theatre Company based in Gander. It is currently holding auditions for its 2012 summer season in Corner Brook, Gander and ... St. John's.

And as the picture says, the Overpass is a great way to sell burgers.

It even has its own website where $14 will buy you a piece.

You can see that the engineers already have a good idea of what the new overpass will look like. But there's still might be time to weigh in with design ideas - something a little more grandiose, perhaps.

Scroll over the image to see some of possibilities we've come up with.

And now it's your turn. Download the photo below and save it to your computer. Then, open your favourite photo editing software and turn it into your vision of what the Overpass should look like when it's finished. Send your design to kathryn.king@cbc.ca

instapic.jpgAnd Dave Roe has picked up the gauntlet and sent this in. Something simple, he says.

toll2.jpg "Isn't this how you folks differentiate between city dwellers and those outside the city limits?", says Chris Andrews who sent in this entry in beautiful, snowy, and cold B.C.

Overpass.PNGAnd Aubrey Smith sent this beauty in. Excellent work for a first-time graphic artist. "My very first use of these graphics. It was fun. I spent five years in St. John's at MUN and have great affection for our old capital city. I still vividly recall getting off the train on Water Street in September 1963 after all night on the Newfie Bullet and taking a taxi to my boarding house at Freshwater Road.That was my first visit to St. John's My wife Jacinta and I visit quite often just to take in some event , or vist a site or to shop ,etc."