First steel shipment for Johnson Street Bridge to arrive in August

The first shipment of steel for the Johnson Street Bridge has been loaded onto a barge in China and is expected to arrive in Victoria in mid-to-late August.

It’s a sign that things are moving ahead on a project fraught with delays. Victoria councillors learned in June that the opening of the bridge has been delayed three months, to March 30, 2018, prompting Mayor Lisa Helps to call the project “a big mess.”

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Parts being shipped include the north and south rings, which weigh about 350 tons each, the lower counterweight and the temporary structure, also called the falsework, used to support the components of the bridge as they’re pieced together, said Jonathan Huggett, the city’s project director for the bridge.

The barge will travel the Yangtze River to Shanghai, where the bridge parts will be loaded onto a ship to cross the Pacific Ocean. The crossing will take about 25 days. The main bridge structures are being constructed at JingJiang and the span-support structures that connect the main bridge to the machinery that moves the bridge are being fabricated in Tianjin.

The steel will be offloaded at Ogden Point or Fraser Surrey Docks, depending on Victoria’s cruise ship schedule. It will then be taken to Point Hope Shipyard to be cleaned and inspected for damage.

After a visit to China in May, Huggett had concerns that some steel pieces showed signs of corrosion. Steel workers at Jiangsu Zhongtai Bridge Steel Structure Co. Ltd. grinded the steel to rid it of corrosion and the work was approved by city inspectors, Huggett said.

“Structurally, we’ve had every single weld X-rayed. We’ve got a massive database of who did what, radiography, photographs of each weld,” he said. “There’s no doubt that it’s been structurally properly made. We wouldn’t have gotten this far if it hadn’t.”

The south ring has been painted, but the north ring only received a coat of primer, in order to make the July 20 shipping deadline. The north ring will be painted in Victoria.

The span support structure is almost complete. Segments of the span support structure, which are smaller than the rings or counterweight, will be shipped in a shipping container.

The second shipment is expected to leave China in September and arrive in October.

Once the span support structure arrives at Point Hope Shipyard, United Engineering will attach it to the other components.

The bridge’s cost was estimated at $63 million in 2009 and grew to $92.8 million when the contract to build it was awarded to PCL Constructors Westcoast in 2012. Construction began in May 2013, and the price is now up to $105 million.

Track the progress of the vessel carrying the steel through this link: http://bit.ly/2tjyS6A

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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