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Letters #6 – Johnson Street Bridge Victoria BC


This is the week the City of Victoria unveiled the three new designs to replace the Johnson Street Bridge. Check here to see the renderings, and a video of the presentation. We have also seen a veritable stream of emails since the presentation of the new designs, many suggesting a preference but asking for more complete drawings, elevations, material profiles and engineering plans. Of course, that is up to the City of Victoria and the architects Wilkinson Eyre – with two weeks to go before council has to make a decision will all the required documents be submited in time for taxpayers to make a considered opinion?

144 voters have signed the online petition for a referendum on the $63 Million borrowing Bylaw. 110 have voted on the Poll – “If the combined Federal/Provincial funding is not provided, should the Blue Bridge replacement be re-considered?” with 68% voting Yes.

Keep the battle going! We cannot be dictated to by this new mayor and council. So many things were said before the election and the bridge deal was not one. That is old news I know. We simply cannot let the bridge be destroyed. I have lived her 15 years and each time I traverse the bridge, be it on bicycle or in a vehicle I find it captivating. It is the water gateway to our harbours.
To change the subject briefly, do we all recall the BC Transit ‘bus lanes on Douglas Street’ fiasco? At least BC Transit had the guts to rescind that plan when they finally realized it was not going to work and nobody wanted it.
If the bridge is built (hopefully not) and sure as the sun shines somewhere everyday in the world, there will be cost overruns. And who will pay for them? Unless God forbid, the mayor in his infinite wisdom gets a sponsor. I can see it now.
The Save-On-Foods Johnson Street Bridge!
Enough already!
Thanks. William Jesse

As a concerned citizen of the Capital Regional District, and owning a business within the City of Victoria, I am concerned not only of the possible additional costs to the taxpayer, over and above the proposed Federal Grant, but am also very concerned with the design of the replacement bridge should the grant be approved.

Although personally I have never been a proponent of the current “Blue Bridge”, and feel that any money spent on attempts to upgrade or repair the structure would be money wasted, the bridge still has its own ambiance and charm.

In an attempt to retain the character and old world charm that downtown Victoria is attempting to revitalize and encompass, I would hate to see a simple single span swing, or simple lift bridge in its place. I would suggest that the City, Council, its contractors, the public, and all involved, take a look at the engineering and design of a ” Tower” type bascule bridge similar to that in Sacramento, California.

I do understand that the capital cost of such an undertaking could involve financial costs well in excess of the federal grant and subsequent city and taxpayer participation, but this structure will be here for many generations, and should fit within the City plan of downtown revitalization. The replacement bridge should emanate the current personality and old world victorian charm of our unique and beautiful downtown area, and should not simply be a simple bridge to move traffic, whether vehicle, rail, or pedestrian, from one side of the harbour to the other. Citizens and taxpayers, I’m sure, would be proud of a “Bascule/Tower” type structure with its magnificence, instead of a modern looking simple swing or lift type structure. Not only would it service our needs for generations, but I feel the design and presence would be a definite asset to tourism and the downtown revitalization we all wish to promote.

As this project appears to be getting ” fast tracked ” and “shovel ready” in an effort to obtain quick federal funding, we need to caution all involved to step back, take a breath, and take a long realistic look at the entire project.

Robert Benbow
1669 Fort Street
Victoria, B.C
V8R 1H8

and his submitted photo…

Tower Bridge Sacramento

Tower Bridge Sacramento

Thank you for starting this site and asking for a referundum – we should have one whether federal money comes through or not. Taxpayers’ money (municipal or federal) could be spent in so many better ways than replacing things not so broken they can’t be fixed — spent for example on parks acquisition and boulevard tree replacement. (Whatever happened to the “sea to sea greenbelt”?) Funny the things that can suddenly be afforded, and rushed through.

Treewatch Victoria


i feel further informed and i am sure we are on the same page on this issue. but i am not sure it will help at all.
i am not trying to be negative about this, just realistic.
i think most politicians are criminally insane and will not listen to reason. i think most people in the city don’t really care. and i can prove it by the fact that over half the people dont even vote.
keep up the good work anyway. i will keep watching. here is a copy of my email to council…
Attention Mayor and Council:
your web site asked for public input so here is mine.
this council agreed to help the poor and homeless and make helping them the cities number one priority.
it is my opinion that the city can build what ever bridge it wants but it must not be at the sacrifice of services to the poor.
the rich need a new bridge. the developers and those who buy into the developments need a new bridge.
the poor can camp well enough under the old bridge and the new one will probably be designed so there is no shelter under it. give the rich the bridge. give the poor something. something that will make a difference.
have your bridge, but spend at least as much new money on the sick and homeless.
there is provincial money to help the cities pay for roads and bridges, there is money for the sick and homeless from b.c. and canadian governments.
how many people will be cold and hungry this winter as the rich folks try and decide which colour and design for their new fancy bridge?
victoria is a rich capital city. it can afford new bridges and compassion for the sick and poor too. a vibrant healthy city can look after all its citizens, rich and poor.
Ron Lund
mayoral candidate 2002

I like design three (Option C), the reverse bascule design. It continues the spirit of the current bridge by using the lofty counterweight.
Design two is alright. Design one is the worst in my opinion, way too severe in appearance.
It would be good to see a site plan for the new approaches to the bridge. Dylan Leblanc

I’m not sure why this bridge is considered iconic in any positive sense. Most people I’ve spoken to consider it a bit of an eyesore and more of a relic of an earlier indusrial age than a treasured landmark. The painted steel lattice construction is difficult to maintain and tends to become neglected, adding to it’s rundown appearance.
IF the published estimates are correct, the cost of rehab will be about 2/3 the cost of a new span. The difference for a new bridge would likely be saved over time due to potentially lower maintenance and future upgrade costs.
While these are my opinions, I respect those of others, however, a referendum result would probably reflect taxpayers concerns about cost rather than aesthetics.
By the way, I am not a local architect of the same name. J. Neilson

In the Mayor’s letter it states that the traffic will have to be rerouted to Douglas St in order to refurbish the bridge and that would be terrible to add 30,000 more cars onto that road. Where I ask will the cars be rerouted to IF the city does go ahead and replace the bridge?
Douglas St?
What’s the difference? Just repair the bridge, it’s long overdue! Lori Prophet

2 comments to Letters #6 – Johnson Street Bridge Victoria BC

  • B. Boyce

    The current blue bridge is an eye soar of the city. It’s ugly and off color. It’s rusty and unsafe. Even if it was to be repainted and upgraded to current seismic codes it would still be unattractive. It would also be very expensive in the long run. (That bridge has lots of little parts to paint.)
    Victoria needs a bridge that will be unique to the city. The city needs something that locals and visitors alike can identify as another Victoria landmark.
    The Single Cable-Stayed bridge is too much of a copy of the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam. As soon as I saw the design for this concept I immediately recognized it as being a clone of the Erasmus Bridge. Something as unoriginal as this design should not be allowed.
    The Reverse Bascule Bridge is certainly unique in its design but is too much of a bulky structure on Victoria’s skyline. The large counterbalance towering into the air is unattractive and in too much contrast to the Victorian style of the city. Furthermore the artistic drawing of the bridge makes the counterbalance appear to be taller then the buildings around it.
    The Rolling Bascule bridge design is the most appealing of the three designs because it is modern yet it will still blend into the cityscape. It is inspired by an existing bridge yet the design is very unique. It has the most potential to be one more unique landmark to add to Victoria’s list.
    Another added benefit of building this new bridge is it will be slightly north of the blue bridge. The design is to eliminate the S-Turns at the Esquimalt side making the area safer for pedestrians and motorists.
    The design is to also build pathway to the waterfront walk (that is to be extended to the bridge). This would create another link to the bridge itself and to the historical Chinatown district in turn.
    It’s idiotic to say the least, to try and fight this decision with council. The new bridge will be designed to last at least another 100 years. The maintenance costs on the new design will be less expensive then consistently repainting and refurbishing existing bridge.
    Refurbishing the bridge will cause traffic to be rerouted on alternative routes causing additional expenses. If the new bridge is to be built beside the current bridge then traffic can keep on flowing into the city during the construction.
    Overall the costs for building a new bridge will be cheaper in the long run.

  • Thom

    Where I ask will the cars be rerouted to IF the city does go ahead and replace the bridge?
    Douglas St?
    What’s the difference? Just repair the bridge, it’s long overdue! Lori Prophet

    Lori, I believe that the official plan is to build the new bridge just north of the current bridge so that the old one can stay open as long as possible.

    Seems a lot more feasible than shutting it down for refurbishment.