Second ring placed on new Johnson Street Bridge

The second ring of the new Johnson Street Bridge was lifted into place Sunday, giving the public a clear view of what the bridge will look like upon completion in March.

"Practice makes perfect, it went in a lot easier than the first ring,” said Jonathan Huggett, the City of Victoria’s project director for the bridge. “Now both rings are in place, they certainly look pretty good."

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The 290-tonne ring was set to be lifted about 11 a.m., but that was pushed back to 1:30 p.m. to ensure the space for the south ring was properly aligned, Huggett said.

The existing Johnson Street Bridge was closed to traffic between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

“I think everyone is very happy with the way the weekend went,” Huggett said. “There weren’t any hiccups.”


On Saturday, the 160-tonne lower counterweight and the north ring were installed. 

Perched on a barge, a giant crane dubbed the Dynamic Beast carefully manoeuvred the counterweight onto columns. The counterweight, which helps the bridge move up and down, didn’t immediately align with the bolt holes, so hydraulic jacks were used to line it up.

About 2:30 p.m., a bit behind schedule, one of the 290-tonne rings was lifted, turned upright and set atop the counterweight.

“The sheer scale of moving big pieces of steel around, I admire the skill of the iron­workers,” Huggett said.

Victoria Fire Department lent the city its drone so staff could post videos of the process online.

Huggett is struck by how dramatically the cityscape will change once the new bridge is complete.

“You know what strikes me as really interesting: Boy, is it much smaller and sleeker than the existing bridge,” he said.

“This is going to look pretty spectacular.”

Huggett said he worked on the Skytrain in Metro Vancouver in the 1980s, a major project that was built over years. In contrast, the major components of the bridge will be erected in the span of 24 hours.

“All of a sudden, in the space of one day, you put in those rings in and go: ‘Wow, that’s different,’ ” he said.

Huggett said on Saturday he stopped to talk to some of the people who gathered to watch the process unfold.

“They were all very interested, very excited. I think everybody’s pumped up.”

The Dynamic Beast and the barge carrying it were set to return to Vancouver Sunday night. The crane is expected to return in February to lift the main span into place.

The bridge is scheduled to open to traffic in March 2018, after which the old Johnson Street Bridge will be disassembled.

The bridge is being constructed at a cost of $105 million, up from the original estimate of $63 million in 2009.

Watch the action on the City of Victoria's live webcam: 

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