'Fantastic' Terwillegar footbridge opens in river valley

A new bridge along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River is now open to pedestrians and cyclists in south Edmonton.

'It's a spectacular addition to the park system. It just floats over the water'

The new 'stressed-ribbon' bridge was officially opened to the public early Friday morning. (CBC Edmonton )

A new bridge across the North Saskatchewan River is now open to pedestrians and cyclists in south Edmonton.

The City of Edmonton held a grand opening for the Terwillegar Park Footbridge and West End Trails on Friday morning.
City councillor Micheal Waters and federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi were among the dignitaries on hand for Friday's ribbon-cutting. (CBC Edmonton )

Construction on the $24.5-million bridge began in August 2014. Work on the trails began in July 2015.

The new 262-metre footbridge links the Terwillegar neighbourhood to Oleskiw River Valley Park. The trail network snakes through five kilometres of forest, linking with the recently completed Fort Edmonton Footbridge.

'A high-tech rope bridge'

The structure is Edmonton's first  'stressed-ribbon' bridge. Similar to a suspension bridge, the support cables are embedded directly into the deck below the walking surface.

The design is low maintenance, quick to construct, and has minimal impact on the surrounding environment, said Rob Marchak, the city's director of urban initiatives.

"It's just really a high-tech rope bridge," Marchak said in an interview with CBC News.

"Minimal steel has gone into this design, and that's what makes it so exciting. It has got a very small footprint and the spring on it is so much fun."

Hannah Whitesel who runs and cycles in the river valley for hours every week was impressed with the design.

"It's great. Fantastic. I love it," said Whitesel, who was there for the ribbon-cutting.

"It's a spectacular addition to the park system. It just floats over the water and really encourages you to walk across and explore."

Both projects were funded through grants from the city, the provincial government and the River Valley Alliance. They were completed on time and on budget.
Throngs of Edmontonians showed up for the official grand opening of the new bridge, and trail system. (CBC Edmonton )