Problem with hydraulics leaves Johnson Street Bridge lowered for 28 hours

The Johnson Street Bridge could not be lifted for much of Thursday and Friday due to a problem with the hydraulic system. As a result, larger vessels were unable to pass under the bridge.

City of Victoria spokesman Bill Eisenhauer said repairs were made and a Friday night test went well. “It lifted, the vessels transited, then it went back down and traffic’s moving,” Eisenhauer said shortly after the 6 p.m. test.

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The bridge was up for just over 20 minutes. As part of the testing, the lift was done at a slower speed than usual. “The bridge has a number speeds that these lifts can be done related to the hydraulic pressure,” Eisenhauer said. “At a slower speed there’s less pressure on the system, so ... they can monitor the system and make their check.”

At least one lift test will take place today, he said.

The lift was timed “to try to avoid the worst of the peak rush but also to meet the needs of the vessels that are looking to transit,” Eisenhauer said.

Prior to the test, lifts had been suspended for 28 hours. Eisenhauer said six vessels were waiting — four outbound and two inbound.

The problem with the hydraulic lift oil system was noticed about 2:30 p.m. Thursday during routine maintenance, he said. The bridge needed to remain in the down position to make repairs.

City staff worked with the bridge builder, PCL Constructors Westcoast Ltd., and the designers of the hydraulic lift system to get it running again.

Eisenhauer said the hydraulic system is still under warranty.

“Engineers have cleared it. We have capability to make lifts but these lifts are going to be operating in monitoring mode. So this means that there will be a limited number of lifts per day and these lifts will be at scheduled times.” More tests will follow.

“That will be the procedure through the weekend and into early next week,” Eisenhauer said. “Engineers will continue to monitor how the lift system and hydraulic system is operating and as capabilities are confirmed we can increase the number of lifts and get back to normal operations.”

The $105-million bridge officially opened in March 2018.

— With a file from Jeff Bell

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