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."
just look at the mess on either side of the bridge