Aluminum planks are installed for the multi-use walkway on the bridge span at the end of December, the surface cyclists and pedestrians will use to travel across the new Johnson Street Bridge. (Photo courtesy Jonathan Huggett)

Span to be installed this month for Victoria’s Johnson Street Bridge

Existing bridge, marine channel closures expected

The Johnson Street bridge is getting closer to its March completion date as the bridge span is installed this month, leaving just minor tasks to finish the project for good.

The span – the bridge deck where vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists will cross – is tentatively scheduled to be lifted Saturday Jan. 27, potentially closing the existing bridge to traffic for the day. The marine channel will be closed for nine days while workers bolt the span to the rings and perform test bridge lifts. The Dynamic Beast, a giant crane barge able to lift over 800 metric tonnes, will arrive a day earlier.

“If it doesn’t lift at the end of the nine-day period, we’re in trouble,” said engineer and project manager for the bridge Jonathan Huggett, adding that this work will ensure the bridge deck lift mechanism is fully operational.

“This is do or die.”

Construction crews will work overnight if needed to get the project done, he said, but installation could still be delayed pending availability of the crane and unfavourable weather conditions.

RELATED: Johnson Street Bridge’s steel rings, lower counterweight lifted into place over weekend

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In August, Huggett indicated the bridge would “look almost complete” by Christmas for the $105-million bridge replacement, however the span installation was pushed back to this month. Workers have been using that time to perform work on the span prior to the lift, Huggett said, rather than after it had been attached. Installing the span will be a major step to completing the project, but after those nine days, there is still work to be done.

“Obviously after that there’s still a lot of odds and ends left to do, but we will have demonstrated after the nine-day period that we can lift the bridge,” Huggett said. “It’s a huge step on that day.”

After the span is installed, workers will place concrete beams to close the gap between the two sides of the bridge, touch up the paint, and perform tests to ensure all parts are operating properly.

Huggett expects crowds to gather and watch as the giant steel structure is lifted into place, as was the case when the two 290-tonne steel rings were installed in early December, and when the steel parts originally arrived from China in early fall.

“It will be spectacular,” he said.

The bridge is on schedule for completion in March after years of delays.

MORE STORIES on the Johnson Street Bridge replacement


Hundreds of bolts connect one of the 290-tonne steel rings to the bascule pier. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Huggett)

The south ring of the Johnson Street Bridge sits on the equalizer, a cradle that holds up the bridge, with wheels that rotate as the rings of the bridge move that will lift the bridge span. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Huggett)

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