Fort York bridge project revived

The city's public works committee will move ahead with cheaper designs for a bridge to connect Wellington Street with Fort York.
The city's public works committee balked at the $26-million price of the bridge's original design. (City of Toronto)

Toronto council’s public works committee has found a cheaper way to build a pedestrian and cyclist bridge near Fort York.

On Thursday, the committee was presented with three new designs for the bridge intended to span a series of railway lines and connect Wellington Street with the historic fort and future developments planned for city-owned land south of the tracks.

In April, the committee voted to scrap a plan for the bridge due to its high projected cost of about $26 million.

The project will now cost about $18 million.

Coun. Mike Layton said he’s glad the project is back on track.

He said one of the design features is an earth berm instead of metal trusses to support the structure.

Completion date pushed back

Originally, the bridge was planned to be completed for July 2012, in time for the bicentennial of the War of 1812. Now, construction won’t begin until 2014.

Coun. David Shiner was among a group of council members who deemed the bridge’s original design too expensive. Shiner said Thursday he’s happy council was able to come up with a cheaper alternative.

"Absolutely I feel vindicated," he told CBC News. "I said then that I’m not trying to kill a bridge, I just want to do it at a more reasonable price."

Vicky O’Day is happy the bridge project is back on track. She lives in the area and regularly walks her dog at Stanley Park, between Wellington and King Street West. She said the area is becoming more congested for pedestrians.

"There’s just a ton of traffic going down Strachan Avenue right now, there’s so many condos being built and very few ins and outs," she said.

The footbridge project hasn’t cleared its last hurdle. The city still has to sort out financing for the project and a youth shelter will have to be relocated to make way for the bridge.