London

Here's what London's new Victoria bridge will look like

After almost 100 years spent carrying Ridout Street traffic over the Thames River south of Horton Street, the Victoria Street Bridge replacement is set to begin this spring.

Work will close Ridout Street south of Horton to vehicles for more than a year

The new bridge will feature a 'through truss' design. The existing bridge is almost 100 years old. (City of London)

After almost 100 years spent carrying Ridout Street traffic over the Thames River south of Horton Street, the Victoria bridge replacement is set to begin this spring. 

The project will see the original bridge from 1926 removed and replaced with a wider span that features a "through truss" design. At their highest point, the arches will be 10 metres above the road surface. 

The bridge will be completely removed in March and its replacement won't be ready to carry traffic until at least May 2023. 

The work will completely close Ridout Street to traffic between Horton Street and Thames Park, but a temporary bridge will be put in place for pedestrians and cyclists while the work happens. 

The current bridge is a notorious traffic bottleneck, particularly for cyclists who have to share two lanes with traffic with vehicles.

The new bridge design will have more room: A lane four metres wide path for bikes and pedestrians on the west (soundbound) side and a 1.5-metre wide bike lane on the east (northbound) side of the new bridge. Pedestrians crossing on the east side will have a 1.5-metre wide sidewalk to themselves. 

The final design will also include a commemorative plaque about the bridge's history with information about the previous spans over that section of the river. 

As part of the project, the tennis courts in Thames Park will be replaced and the connections to the Thames Valley Parkway will be improved. 

Traffic detours

The work means the removal of a key route connecting south London with downtown. A traffic management plan presented at a public meeting calls for traffic to be routed over to Wellington Street and Wharncliffe Road during the work. 

This cross-section shows the lane configuration of the new Victoria Bridge on Ridout Street. (City of London)

There were concerns that lane closures as part of the Wharncliffe Road South widening and CN Railway bridge upgrade would happen at the same time as the Victoria bridge replacement and lead to major problems for north-south traffic. 

However Garfield Dales, the city's manager of transportation and infrastructure, said that won't happen. 

"We will co-ordinate these projects with the goal of minimizing impacts to traffic," he said. "Obviously Ridout and Wharncliffe are major roadways for us so it's important that we co-ordinate this work. There won't be any full closures of Wharncliffe for the CN bridge replacement this year."

Peter Miazga co-owns Mac Outpost on Wharncliffe just north of Horton. He's been keeping a close eye on the city's plans for both Ridout and Wharncliffe. The Wharncliffe project has already led to the expropriation of three businesses properties across from him. 

Built in 1926, the work to replace the Victoria bridge wills start in March and continue until at least May of 2023. (Amanda Margison/CBC)

"Any time a major street is closed for a long period of time it's going to disrupt traffic flow," said Miazga. "We're concerned with Wortley Village taking the brunt of that traffic in an area that's not designed to handle that traffic." 

City staff have recommended the contract for the $22.7-million project go to McLean Taylor Construction Limited, the same firm that handled the rebuilding of the Blackfriars Bridge. The tender is up for final approval at the next full meeting of city council. 

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