Delayed by wind, Johnson Street Bridge crews will try again Sunday

Work to install the last of the major components to the new Johnson Street Bridge was cancelled Saturday due to the wind, forcing the work to be done Sunday and Monday instead.

“We were doing everything we could to not get involved in this kind of disruption in the middle of a work day, but I don’t see any choice out of it,” said project director Jonathan Huggett.

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The Johnson Street Bridge will be closed from 7 a.m. Sunday until 5 p.m. on Monday to pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. Delays are expected, with traffic being detoured to the Bay Street Bridge.

“There were some unfortunate things that no one could do much about,” Huggett said. “We won’t take a chance and do something where someone could get killed or severe damage happens.”

Workers are expected to face heavy rain Sunday, but Huggett said that’s not a problem.

Wind, on the other hand, is.

Huggett said the rigging ropes are designed to withstand winds of up to 21 kilometres per hour. The problem is both the material and the crane used to move it act like sails when the wind picks up.

Beginning Sunday, the massive crae barge known as the Dynamic Beast will lift and place the 46-metre-long, 470-tonne bridge deck span and the roadway infill panel.

The crane barge will be parked directly under the existing bridge, which will remain in the up position until all pieces are placed. Areas near the approaches to the bridge will be closed for safety.

Huggett said it’s frustrating having to face delays so close to the end of the project.

He also noted the delay will drive up costs for bridge builder PCL, which pays for the crane and tug boats tied up in the Inner Harbour. He said it won’t add extra costs for the city.

The work is still subject to weather conditions.

According to the city, if high winds persist, the crane barge will remain positioned in the marine channel and will lift at the earliest opportunity.

By next week, the bridge is expected to be bolted into place ahead of a test lift on Feb. 4.

While the new bridge will look complete, it is not expected to be open to the public until the end of March to allow for testing of its mechanical, electrical and hydraulic systems.

After the new bridge is operational, demolition of the old bridge will begin.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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