Special delivery for Johnson Street: all the steel to build a bridge

It has been eight years since Victoria’s city council voted to replace the Johnson Street Bridge, but it wasn’t until this week that all of the pieces to make that happen showed up in Victoria.

The final shipment of steel for the $105-million replacement of the bridge arrived at Ogden Point from China Sunday night.

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“It is exciting, every piece of steel is now out of China and in Victoria,” said project director Jonathan Huggett. “This project team has been at this for two years, and they have given their heart and soul to it. We said we would get a high-quality bridge. It’s been painful to get there, but we’ve got there.”

The project has dealt with a number of problems since it was conceived, including concerns about the quality of the steel and a cost increase to $105 million from its original budget of $63 million.

The final bill for the project remains unknown as there are additional costs to improve the fenders that will protect the bridge piers.

With all of the steel now in the Victoria, Huggett said he’s confident the goal of having most of the components in place by Christmas will be achieved.

“[By then] it will look like a complete bridge,” he said. There will still be work and testing to be done before the bridge opens to traffic by the end of March 2018.

The latest delivery of steel, which was loaded onto a barge on Monday, included the main bridge span — a 46-metre-long, 360-tonne slab of steel — which will be the three-lane roadway. The shipment also included the outriggers that support the pedestrian walkway and the multi-use walkway that will go on either side of the roadway.

The load was to be secured to the barge on Monday and then barged into the Upper Harbour near Point Hope Shipyard this afternoon.

The steel will be washed to remove sea salt after its voyage across the Pacific, and there will be an in-depth inspection of paint, welds and the steel structure.

If there are any repairs to be done, they will be done there as crews assemble other components for the bridge.

“There’s lots of assembly work that takes place before it’s put in place,” Huggett said. That includes attaching the pedestrian walkway and the multi-use pathway to the deck span as well as installing the bridge architectural and traffic lighting, and the deck surface.

When it’s in place, the bridge will be painted light grey and be lit blue at night.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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Earlier story

The final shipment of steel for the new Johnson Street Bridge is expected to arrive at Ogden Point between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sunday night.

The oceangoing, heavy lift ship AAL Singapore has sailed from Shanghai and is off Port Renfrew, project director Jonathan Huggett said at 3 p.m. A pilot boat is going out to drop off a pilot who will steer the boat into Ogden Point with a tug assist.

“It’s coming right into Ogden Point and will be docking there,” said Huggett. “We won’t offload tonight, but we’ll start offloading tomorrow morning at 8 a.m.”

“I am excited. We’ve been at this for two years, trying to get to this point. I think everybody on the team is excited. It’s no big deal a ship coming into the harbour, but we’re quite excited. It means it’s finally here.”

The shipment includes the bridge deck span that cars and bikes will travel across and the pedestrian and multi-use pathways.

The bridge deck span will be offloaded onto a barge and lashed down Monday. It will pass under the old Johnson Street Bridge on Tuesday afternoon.

When the steel arrives in the upper harbour it will be cleaned and inspected for any possible damage during shipping. The pedestrian walkway and the multi-use pathway will be attached to the to the deck span. The architectural and traffic lighting and the new bridge deck surface will also be installed.

If construction goes as planned, the bridge will be finished by December. But there will be months of engineering tests to make sure the bridge is safe. The bridge is expected to open on March 30, 2018.

The new bridge has a projected total cost of $105.06 million. It will be painted light grey and be illuminated in blue at night. — Louise Dickson

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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