December opening promised for new bridge at Calgary zoo

A $26-million bridge connecting Inglewood and the Calgary Zoo will open Dec. 10.

Construction started last year on new span to replace crumbling, 108-year-old structure

The reconstructed Zoo Road will be wider, with improved sightlines at the approaches to Baines Bridge and the 12th Street bridge, as well as new pathway for cyclists and pedestrians. (City of Calgary)

The new 12th Street S.E. bridge will open for traffic Dec. 10, reconnecting Inglewood to the Calgary Zoo and the city's north side.

The $26-million span over the Bow River replaces the old steel truss bridge that had been at the site since 1908.

That old structure was closed to traffic a year ago.

It was lifted off its moorings last spring so it could be dismantled.

Cassie Brannagan, a spokesperson with the city's transportation infrastructure department, said the bridge is being completed on schedule.

A giant crane lifts and moves the 108-year-old zoo bridge over the Bow River. (Allison Dempster/CBC)

"We said that it would be open in the winter of 2017 and we are on budget."

The new structure directly links to St. George's Island, home of the zoo's non-indigenous exhibits.

An existing bridge on the north side of the island completes the river crossing to Memorial Drive, a major east-west connector. The project included rehabilitation of that span, the Baines Bridge, as well as a flood protection barrier for the zoo and new pathways along the Bow River.

"There will be a fully open road along Zoo Road — all lanes open — and the pathway system will be open, reconnecting people from Memorial to Inglewood and to St. Patrick's Island," said Brannagan.

Traffic resumes but other work still left to do

She said some other work will need to be done in the area in the coming months. 

Landscaping along the river next to Zoo Road won't happen until the spring, when warmer weather returns.

The traffic ramp on Memorial Drive just east of the Baines Bridge is also being widened. That work won't be completed until next summer.

"The ramp is going to become two-way traffic, allowing those travelling both east and westbound on Memorial access into Inglewood," said Brannagan.

Artist rendering of the 12th Street S.E. bridge replacement (City of Calgary)

A couple of other small projects still remain but won't affect traffic.

She said there are plans to place pieces recovered from the old zoo bridge in a display near the new span.

As well, there will be a public art project. A sculpture will be placed in a greenspace near the south end of the new bridge. 

Brannagan said further details on those projects will be announced next year.