British Columbia

Johnson Street Bridge safety under review after 2 incidents with intoxicated pedestrians

The City of Victoria says it's reviewing safety on the Johnson Bridge, one of the main links into downtown Victoria, after an intoxicated man was found hanging from the bridge last week as it lifted for a passing barge.

Some pedestrians aren't listening to warning signals, says City of Victoria

The Johnson Street Bridge is one of the main links into downtown Victoria. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

The City of Victoria says it's reviewing safety on the Johnson Bridge, one of the main links into downtown Victoria, after an intoxicated man was found hanging from the bridge last week as it lifted for a passing barge.

Victoria police believe the man went onto the bridge Friday evening after the arm began to lift and clung to the railing. The man was uninjured when the bridge came back down and police took him into custody.

It follows another incident in December last year when an intoxicated man tried to climb a railing on the same bridge and fell to his death.

City staff review the bridge's safety measures after any incident occurs, Fraser Work, the city's director of engineering and public works, told CBC's On The Island.

"Do we need to change the angles of the cameras? Do we need to add paint or another sign that says you could be prosecuted by crossing these safety barriers?" he said.

"We don't want to see copycats thinking that they can take these risks without consequences."

The city hasn't settled on any changes yet. But Work described an already-robust system of warning bells, lights and barriers, which activate minutes before the bridge goes up.

Operators, who manually operate the bridge gates, can see both ends of the bridge's pedestrians pathways through closed-circuit cameras, Work said.

Some pedestrians or cyclists linger on the bridge, Work said, and a few even try to rush through as the barricades come down. 

"They're choosing to go because they don't want to be held back," he said. "I guess they're inconvenienced."

That can also risk the safety of the vessels travelling underneath, Work said, as bridge operators are forced to make risky emergency manoeuvres.

Listen to the full interview with City of Victoria's Fraser Work:

The City of Victoria says it's reviewing safety on the Johnson Bridge after an intoxicated man was found hanging from the bridge last week as it lifted for a passing barge. 7:03

WIth files from CBC's On The Island