Calgary

City removes most of historic 9th Avenue bridge

Piece by piece, an Inglewood mainstay is disappearing — but the city is looking to salvage its legacy.

Much of the Inglewood Bridge’s structure has disappeared, but the city hopes to preserve its legacy

The historic 9th Avenue bridge is being removed, but the Inglewood sign on top will be part of its preservation, Evan Fer says. (Stephanie Wiebe/CBC)

Piece by piece, an Inglewood mainstay is disappearing — but the city is looking to salvage its legacy. 

After 110 years, the deteriorating bridge once stretching across the Elbow River to connect Inglewood with downtown Calgary is being dismantled to make room for a safer replacement.

"We started removing the old bridge last week ... and the work has been going very well," city transportation and infrastructure project manager Evan Fer said Saturday.

With pedestrian detours managing foot traffic and a temporary bridge in place, Fer said he does not expect much impact on commuters during construction.

The city is working to lessen the historical loss for Inglewood residents as well — the bridge will soon be removed entirely, but according to Fer, the city is making sure the history it represented is preserved.

Bridge to be commemorated, pieces salvaged

The bridge will be commemorated with four historic images of the old bridge along the pathway's barriers, its old railings will be used in Mills Park, and pieces of the bridge are being stored for "future use in other creative projects," according to a press release.

Perhaps most reassuringly for Inglewood residents, the community sign that once crowned the bridge will be preserved and moved to Outwest Park — along with the black goose.

"[The bridge] has been an important gateway for the community for the last 110 years," Fer said.

"It was really important for the community to see that will honour that legacy of the old bridge, and that we see that incorporated into the new design."

In 2017 the city engaged with the public on the redesign and commemoration of the bridge, according to a timeline of the project.

Construction crews work to remove the bridge connecting Inglewood to downtown Calgary on Sept. 21, 2019. (Helen Pike/CBC Calgary)

'Always been an important crossing'

Josh Traptow, the executive director with the Calgary Heritage Authority, said the symbolism of bridges in the city is significant, and is happy to see that the bridge is being treated with reverence.

"Bridges have played parts in our community for thousands of years of connecting places, so it's important ... to continue to commemorate those crossings, and the people that crossed before us," Traptow said.

"Obviously that bridge ... has linked Inglewood with the downtown, and has always been an important crossing."

Often people won't realize how important historic structures like these are to the community until they are removed, Traptow said.

"I think for a lot of people, [using the bridge] just became part of their daily routine," Traptow said. "And then, when things kind of disappear from people's daily routine, I think that's when people start to notice that it was a heritage asset that's now gone."

The new bridge is expected to be complete fall 2020.

An artist's rendering of the new Ninth Avenue Bridge, which will cost $23 million and replace the century-old structure that currently spans the Elbow River. (City of Calgary)

With files from Helen Pike

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