The new Johnson Street Bridge will start to take shape as early as next week as one of the largest cranes in Western Canada, the Dynamic Beast, arrives to start lifting the massive steel pieces into place.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps called the arrival of “the Beast” exciting.
“It will allow the project to take that next step, which is to physically manifest itself in the harbour,” she said. “I think it’s a good concrete next step.”
The giant crane barge is slated to be parked in the marine channel under the existing bridge for up to five days tentatively starting Dec. 8.
“It’s really, I think, important to see this project come close to a visible ending,” Helps said. “It’s been long talked about and long awaited, so it’s good to see it happening.”
The crane barge will tower high above the new bridge as it lifts and places the steel rings and the lower counterweight into the bascule pier.
While the work will be interesting to watch, it will mean some periodic but significant traffic disruptions — some lasting several hours — as the existing bridge will be closed while the steel is being lifted into place.
Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians should plan to use the Bay Street Bridge instead.
“There will be major traffic disruptions. It’s unfortunate, but just like with any large construction project, it’s unavoidable,” Helps said. “We just ask people to be patient, find alternate means to get around, avoid that area if possible and, really, just to plan their trips knowing that there’s going to be disruption for a few days.”
The channel under the bridge will be closed to all marine traffic, including industrial and commercial vessels and smaller boats such as sailboats, canoes and kayaks, while the Dynamic Beast is in place.
Dates and times of bridge closures are weather-dependent and subject to change, but the tentative schedule is:
• The Dynamic Beast will pass under the current bridge into the Upper Harbour.
• The bridge will be closed for about 45 minutes sometime between 7 and 9 a.m.
• The bridge will be closed for about 45 minutes sometime between 7 and 9 a.m. as the Dynamic Beast crane barge is positioned in the channel underneath.
• The crane barge will lift the lower counterweight and north ring into the bascule pier.
• Intermittent bridge closures will occur for several hours between 9:15 a.m. and 5 p.m.
• The Dynamic Beast will lift the south ring into the bascule pier and depart Victoria.
• Intermittent closures will occur between 8 and 11 a.m.
• The bridge will also be closed for about 45 minutes between 2:45 p.m. and 5 p.m. when the crane barge leaves.
The city says the best viewing of the construction activities will be from the northeast side of the bridge, near Canoe Club and Mermaid Wharf. A live webcam of the project is also available to watch: