Booth Street bridge opens after nearly 2 years of construction

Cyclists, motorists and pedestrians all got their first chance Sunday morning to cross the new Booth Street bridge west of downtown, open after nearly two years of construction.

City will spend $2 million to install segregated bike lanes by 2018

A cyclist pauses on the sidewalk of the new Booth Street bridge, which opened on Sept. 4, 2016, after nearly two years of construction. (CBC)

Cyclists, motorists and pedestrians all had their first chance Sunday to try out the new Booth Street bridge west of downtown, open after nearly two years of construction work.

"There was no other cars! It was great. I had the whole thing," said Elizabeth Rousseau, who biked across the bridge Sunday morning.

Booth Street north of Albert Street had been closed to traffic since December 2014, a result of the ongoing work on the city's Confederation light rail line.

The new bridge reconnects Albert and the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, crossing the O-Train tracks near the site of the future Pimisi LRT station.

Hasn't gone smoothly

The construction of the Booth Street bridge didn't exactly go smoothly, however.

Mayor Jim Watson and members of city council have acknowledged it was a mistake not to include segregated cycling infrastructure on the bridge — and as a result, the bridge will undergo further work to have separated bike lanes installed by the end of 2018.

Elizabeth Rousseau crossed the new Booth Street bridge for the first time on Sunday. (CBC)

"Those are really nice to have. I definitely think those would make everyone feel more comfortable — particularly people who want to ride with families," Rousseau told CBC News.

"I think it would reduce a lot of conflict if they put more consideration into what cyclists are looking for, and to help make better rules so that everyone can be safe."

The cost of the segregated lanes  — approximately $2 million — will be split by the federal government and the city's light rail contingency fund. 

There are temporary options available until the segregated lanes are built, Citizens for Safe Cycling president Gareth Davies told CBC News on Sunday.

"We can look at things like flex posts to delineate the lines better, and different options like that," said Davies, who's been meeting with city planners over the past few weeks to talk about Booth Street.

Fire hydrant problem fixed

As well, crews were forced to remove a fire hydrant last week that had been mistakenly placed in the middle of one of the bridge's sidewalks.

During the construction work, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians were being rerouted onto an extension of Preston Street at its northern terminus.

The city has said that extension will be "decommissioned" once the bridge opens.