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[Old Johnson Street Bridge] General discussion


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#1 amor de cosmos

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 10:37 AM

I couldn't agree more with John Luton. The E&N overpass/underpass, for example, seems extremely awkward. If the Johnson St bridge gets replaced I don't see why that shouldn't get straightened out also. Straighten out that whole area, the tracks, Galloping Goose, Johnson St, Harbour Rd, the intersections at Pandora/Johnson/Store, the entrance to Ocean Pt... The city might also be able to make some money through value capture, similar to the redesign of the Granville St loops, from which Vancouver could make $100 million through land sales.

I also wonder what goes through Pam Madoff's head when she decides when something does/doesn't consider a structure to have historical value. As the article says, it's one of only a few bascule bridges left in the country, designed by Joseph Strauss, who also designed the Golden Gate Bridge, and has become kind of a symbol of Victoria. Some people don't even call it the Johnson St bridge anymore, they call it the blue bridge. I'm sure more than a few people would be sad to see it go. But it has no heritage value?

Blue Bridge needs to be fixed or replaced
Victoria council takes a hard look today at landmark link

By Bill Cleverley, Times Colonist
April 2, 2009

The multi-million dollar question of whether to replace or repair the landmark Johnson Street Bridge will be before Victoria councillors today. And Mayor Dean Fortin says there's no time to delay.

"It's fundamentally our number-one infrastructure priority. There's just no doubt about it," Fortin said.

"It's fundamental to public safety and it's fundamental to our transportation system. It certainly has the potential for an impact on every community from Vic West to Esquimalt to Saanich and Colwood -- everywhere."

It's also going to be expensive.

Preliminary evaluations of the 85-year-old blue bridge pegged repairs at $15 million and replacement at $30 million. But Fortin said expects new estimates to be considerably higher. "Fifteen million? Where does that come from? I'd do it tomorrow for $15 million," he said.

The last major capital project the city undertook anywhere near this size was the four-year-old Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, built through a private-public partnership, which rang in at $28.1-million.

Timing of the bridge decision is critical, said Fortin, who hopes to tap federal and provincial infrastructure funds.

Designed by Joseph Strauss, the man who designed the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the bridge is nearing the end of its life.

It was built for $1 million, opened in 1924, and is one of only a handful of bascule bridges -- a type of movable bridge -- left in Canada. But it has a number of problems, including seismic concerns.

A 2005 underwater survey found the concrete piers are eroding, but no underwater repairs have been done in 30 years. In 1999, the concrete decking on the approaches and corroded sections of the steel structure were replaced.

Coun. John Luton said replacing the bridge could provide the opportunity to untangle the road approaches, sidewalks, trails, bikeways and railtracks that meet at the bridge.

"The discussion, I think, will turn on what opportunities does rebuilding offer us in the way of unscrambling the octopus on either side of the bridge, because you've got some very awkward geometry. You've got under-utilized land on the downtown side, mostly, by the Janion Building and around Northern Junk," Luton said.

"You've got parking lots on the waterfront. ... It's such a poor use of waterfront land."

Coun. Pam Madoff is uncertain whether there is a compelling heritage reason for preserving the bridge.

"I think certainly the Johnson Street Bridge is seen as an icon -- absolutely. What we would have to look at are what the engineering challenges are, what the costs are and the lifecycle issues as well --all of those things," said Madoff, adding one of the biggest issues is how to keep traffic moving during any rebuilding or repair.

In anticipation of changes to the blue bridge, Luton thinks the city should look at improving the Point Ellice (Bay Street) Bridge.

Luton has advocated retrofitting the bridge with bike lanes and better sidewalks and a left-turn lane for traffic from Bay Street to Tyee Road.

"While we're madly scribbling out the designs for whatever we do at the Johnson Street bridge, it makes sense to do the work on the Bay Street bridge so it becomes readier to absorb the shift in trips from the Johnson Street Bridge over to the Bay Street Bridge."

http://www.timescolo...4881/story.html


just look at the mess on either side of the bridge



#2 Holden West

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 11:17 AM

I'm somewhat sentimental about the old bridge so I would hope that any replacement was equally eyecatching so it would become an icon of the future. But the final result of the SOFMC makes me pessimistic to think we could count on that.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#3 yodsaker

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 11:21 AM

Repair and restore it, its too good to lose. Its a real symbol of the city to residents and it has heritage merit IMO. Let's hope people can see the value beyond dollars and cents.

#4 spanky123

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 11:58 AM

Ok I understanding that some of the concrete pillings need work, but other than trying to get Government dough what is the motivation for having to replace/repair the bridge right now?

#5 victorian fan

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 11:59 AM

"The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."

It was late November, when the storm blew in. In the darkness of night, white caps foamed on the harbour. The rain pelted in sideways against the windows on my little shack. The bridge, lit by the glow from the street lamps, took on a ghostly appearance. That is when I got the call from a sailboat, requesting passage to the upper harbour. The two bridges, raised to the upright position, looked like two giant arms reaching for heaven. The wind was blowing through the girders making an odd sound when I thought I heard the words 'Come in, come in and let me give you shelter from the storm.

- A quote from the Senior Bridge Operator

#6 G-Man

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 12:01 PM

Getting rid of this bridge is a huge mistake.

The heritage scandal aspect of this proposal is being discussed here:

http://www.vibrantvi...read.php?t=2929

#7 Mike K.

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 12:05 PM

Getting rid of the curve under the rail bridge would be welcome.

Skyscraper Source Media Inc.

July 15, 2014: [Mayor] Fortin told C-FAX's Bruce Williams that he expects the [Johnson Street Bridge] project to be completed "on time and on budget."


#8 amor de cosmos

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 12:42 PM

Getting rid of the curve under the rail bridge would be welcome.


so the downside would be that we'd have no more blue bridge (not the same one anyway) if it got replaced. but what about the benefits? while it's getting rebuilt, the roads from market square to tyee could definitely be straightened out & streamlined, making vic west "closer" to the downtown area. the city could offset their costs with land sales & value capture, and maybe make a profit at the end of it all.

#9 G-Man

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 12:44 PM

The benefits just won't add up to the cost to the city. There is a lot that could be done to improve the traffic layout while keeping the bridge.

#10 jklymak

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 01:18 PM

The problem w/ the bridge that impacts traffic, so far as I can see, is that the E&N comes across it. If it stopped west of the bridge the underpass etc could all be removed. I kind of like the east side, except a pedestrian walkway under the bridge would be nice if it was part of an improved harbour-length walkway.

I wonder about the earthquake worry. Worst-case scenario one or two cars gets caught, and I would expect the odds of that to be pretty small. Its not a very long bridge. Of course the pilings should be shored up, but that doesn't require rebuilding the whole thing. So what is the big possible expense?

#11 Mike K.

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 01:33 PM

The problem is not a few cars falling into the water during an earthquake, it's losing the bridge!

Skyscraper Source Media Inc.

July 15, 2014: [Mayor] Fortin told C-FAX's Bruce Williams that he expects the [Johnson Street Bridge] project to be completed "on time and on budget."


#12 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 02:33 PM

Wait a minute. It cost $30m to build our arena, and it costs $30m to replace the bridge? I don't like it.

If we don't replace it with the same type of bridge, we need to get rid of the train portion of the thing anyway.

It's a nice looking bridge, but if it has to be replaced, let's do it completely different, and the money we save with a more conventional crossing can be spent elsewhere, like on the cruise-ship terminal or Belleville terminal.

Let's open a casino downtown where there should be one, and use profits to build a bridge and the terminal fixes.

How about we make it a toll-bridge, but Victoria residents don't have to pay the toll, just all the others.

#13 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 02:37 PM

CFAX today:

Polls

What do you want to see done with Victoria's aging Johnson Street Bridge?
Answer Votes %
Replace it. 280 61%
Repair it. 177 39%
Total: 457 100%

#14 Caramia

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 03:11 PM

I love the blue bridge and I hope they keep it instead of replacing it with something new.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#15 Rex250

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 03:11 PM

i feel that we cant just keep repairing it, its going to be replaced anyway someday. so why not just replace it now with, as said above, something as equally iconic and eye-catching?

#16 amor de cosmos

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 04:59 PM

Victoria will wait to decide on future of worn Blue Bridge
April 2, 2009 3:01 PM

Refurbishing the deteriorating Johnson Street Bridge will cost between $25-million and $30-million and last another 40 years while replacing it would cost $35-million to $40-million for something good for 100 years, Victoria councillors were told today.

Mayor Dean Fortin likened the choice to deciding whether to pump yet more cash into a beater car to keep it running or buying a new one.

Only in this case the decision has to be made quickly if the city is to have any hope of tapping into federal/provincial stimulus dollars that could cover two thirds of the cost.

Councillors made no decision Thursday but will consider it again in two weeks when staff provide more details on issues such as: available options, potential funding sources, communications plans and timelines.

http://www.timescolo...7420/story.html

#17 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 05:13 PM

Wow, Dean Fortin compares this structure to "a beater car"? Is this a joke?
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#18 UrbanRail

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 05:15 PM

If a replacement is decided on, then it has to have a multi-modal approach to it. It should include cycling lanes, proper sidewalks for pedestrians, proper road lanes ( I am not sure how one is going to straighten it out), and must include rail (allowing a future streetcar loop and future extension of commuter rail to Douglas St).

The Victoria side will pose a bigger challenge, even more so than the Vic West side.

I personally like the Blue Bridge. It has a lot of history, but if it is decided to replace it, then lets do it right.
Aaron

Promoting the return of the streetcar in modern form to Victoria and the use of the E&N as a commuter rail link on Vancouver Island.

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#19 aastra

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 05:21 PM

Indeed. And an essential aspect of doing it right would be to shell out the cash necessary to get an outstanding design, because this bridge is -- and will always be -- one of the city's defining landmarks. It's one of those things that people think of when they think of Victoria. It's unusual.

The do-it-as-cheaply-as-possible approach will fail miserably in this instance.

#20 aastra

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 05:29 PM

I wouldn't mind seeing the sort of bridge that Rattenbury might have designed. Something unnecessarily ornate. The sort of bridge that people would want to linger on because it has atmosphere.

Take the opportunity to link it up with the northern extension of the causeway (it doesn't exist but it really should exist).

But that would probably cost money and Victoria's a dump anyway so let's see what Kamloops is doing and then spend half as much.

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