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Blue Bridge rail line set for last drop

Feb 21 2012
The dismantling of the rail portion of the Johnson Street Bridge begins Wednesday. The largest single-lift crane barge in Western Canada will remove the span. 

The dismantling of the rail portion of the Johnson Street Bridge begins Wednesday. The largest single-lift crane barge in Western Canada will remove the span.

Photograph by: Darren Stone , timescolonist.com

Victoria's decommissioned downtown rail bridge will be lowered for the final time this week, and pulling off the impressive manoeuvre will require the largest single-lift crane barge in Western Canada.

Measuring 100-by-30 metres, the crane barge will fill the harbour area underneath the Johnson Street Bridge.

Work begins Wednesday and will continue into the weekend, creating a few traffic disruptions, city spokeswoman Bridget Frewer said. That work will include demolition of the 500-tonne counterweight as part of the intricately planned removal of the rail bridge, which has sat upright for nearly a year after being deemed unsafe.

Crews will first smash the bridge's counterweight on site. A plywood box has been constructed around the large mass of concrete, which will be destroyed by a hoe ram.

Removal of the rail bridge will be the most evident element, thus far, of the $77-million bridge replacement project. Other work leading up to this week has included relocating a Telus telecommunications conduit line between Victoria West and the rest of the city.

"Visually, it [the rail bridge] has got the largest impact, but installing the conduit was much more technical," said Andrew Purdey, CEO of Ruskin Construction Ltd., which won the pre-construction contract with a bid of

$1.8 million.

In a process expected to take about 30 minutes, the 250-tonne rail bridge will be lifted from its foundation and lowered onto the barge on Friday. A specific time has yet to be determined, but this component of the project will require a full closing of the Johnson Street Bridge.

Most of the preparation work, including dismantling of electrical and mechanical systems along with rigging preparations, will take place Wednesday and Thursday.

For safety reasons, the public will not be allowed on or close to the Johnson Street Bridge while the rail bridge is being removed. Public works staff and Victoria police will be on site to divert traffic.

The city will not provide specific spots for the public to view the work, but locations north of the bridge would likely be best, said Frewer.



Bridge closures

Channel closure

The navigation channel will be closed to all marine traffic as of Wednesday at midnight. It will reopen to marine traffic Saturday at 6 a.m.

Road bridge traffic

The road bridge will remain open to vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians throughout most of the work, but traffic will be reduced to two lanes (one in each direction). Travellers should expect delays.

Full bridge closure

The bridge will be closed to all vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians on three occasions: Wednesday from midnight to 6 a.m.; Friday for the rail removal by crane (a 30-minute closing, with time to be announced); and Saturday from midnight to 6 a.m.

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