Under-bridge walkway to provide new view of Victoria's working harbour

Construction of a pedestrian underpass below the new Johnson Street Bridge will connect sections of the David Foster Harbour Pathway and bypass a busy intersection.

David Foster Harbour Pathway will eventually extend 5.8 kilometres

The City of Victoria's Sarah Webb says the bridge underpass means pedestrians will have an alternative to crossing the busy intersection where Pandora and Johnson streets cross Wharf Street. (Emily Brass/CBC)

Victoria city council has approved a walkway under Victoria's new Johnson Street Bridge that will give pedestrians a new view of the city's working waterfront, and an alternative to crossing a busy intersection.

The 30-metre wheelchair-accessible underpass will connect sections of the planned David Foster Harbour Pathway on two historic properties, the Northern Junk property to the south and the Janion building to the north. 

Sarah Webb, the City of Victoria's manager of sustainable transportation planning and development, said the construction will turn the previously inaccessible area under the bridge into part of a future tourist attraction. 

"You'll be able to really see barges and harbour ferries, canoes and kayakers, so this is a chance to explore the unique character of each segment of the harbour pathway," Webb said. 

"When you're down in Fishermen's Wharf it's a very different experience than when you're next to the Johnson Street Bridge." 

The David Foster Harbour Pathway will eventually connect 5.8 kilometres of waterfront from Ogden Point to Rock Bay.

Webb said completion is expected to take about 20 years, with sections added as properties along the waterfront are redeveloped.

The Johnson Street Bridge pedestrian underpass will connect sections of the city's waterfront walkway to the north and south of the new bridge. (City of Victoria)

Last year, construction was postponed on two other elements of the harbour pathway after council decided the cost estimates were too high.

To provide a feeling of safety, Webb said planners consulted with Victoria police and chose materials, finishes and lighting to create a welcoming environment.

"Providing a really encouraging environment for people to walk through and hang out is a great way to keep eyes on the path," she said.

The underpass is expected to be completed in June at an estimated cost of $544,000.

With files from Emily Brass and CBC Radio One's On the Island.