Over 500 people attended the opening of Johnson Street Bridge, the City of Victoria’s biggest infrastructure project to date. Spencer Pickles/VICTORIA NEWS

VIDEO: B.C. city celebrates biggest infrastructure project in its history

Over 100 million dollars and 10 years later, it’s finally here, and Victoria celebrated bridgemania

You’d think it was a rock concert.

Around noon, over 500 people anxiously waited for the Johnson Street Bridge in Victoria to officially open.

Members of the crowd had to be reminded to stand back, as they weaved around each other, straining their necks to capture a glimpse of the new bridge.

Construction on the largest infrastructure project ever undertaken by the city began in May 2013.

The new bridge will support 30,000 crossings a day including vehicles, local transit, pedestrians, and cyclists.

“We’ve been waiting ten years for this, so another ten minutes won’t kill us,” said Amanda Shultz, who waited patiently among the crowd.

Food trucks, coffee stands, musicians and vintage cars lined the streets to entertain the revelers as they waited.

“I think it’s fantastic, a long time coming,” said Harold Sleunwhite who has lived in Victoria for 36 years.

“I don’t come downtown often but when I do it’s always this route. It will definitely help rush hour traffic.”

Sleunwhite offered a unique suggestion for what to do with the old Blue Bridge—even though it has new, offshore owners. He said, “If they were to cut some pieces out of it and give it to a sculpture to make something decent, it would stand as a memory for a lifetime.”

Mayor Lisa Helps officiated the opening and thanked the long list of people involved—from the project manager to the builders.

Mayor Helps specifically thanked the Songhees nation elders who blessed the bridge, adding, “I wonder and worry about all the other bridges that haven’t been blessed.”

People cheered and clapped during the 90 seconds it took for the bridge to be lowered. Then, as a community, the crowd walked over the bridge, taking photos and marveling at the structure.

“It’s 100 years looking into the future and it’s a really exciting day. This marks not only the completion of the bridge but Victoria’s future,” Mayor Helps told Victoria News.

“This bridge project got off to a bit of a rocky start and we brought it back under control. What we see now is a different way of doing current projects — like the fire hall and Crystal Pool… So it’s a lesson learned and going forward we’re taking a different approach to those projects which I think will fare very well.”

READ MORE: ‘Hello New, Goodbye Blue’: How to navigate Johnson Street Bridge festivities.

Jeremy Loveday was excited to see this project finally come to fruition. “It’s a new chapter in the City’s future. Say goodbye to the old Blue Bridge and the memories it holds, and say hello to this next chapter,” he told Victoria News.

“I’m glad the local First Nations have played a role in opening this bridge and they have blessed it, and I look forward to moving forward with them in a good way.”

The public seemed very pleased with the outcome of the project — over 100 million dollars and 10 years in the making.

As a group of tourists, unaware of the event’s significance, headed down the side pathway of the structure, a local man excitedly corrected them, “C’mon, man, don’t you know there’s a new bridge?”.

The community celebration will continue until 5 p.m. At 9 p.m. the bridge is expected to open to traffic.

Read our five-part series on the project, ‘Bridging the Gap’, by Tim Collins starting here.

anna.james@vicnews.com

Just Posted

100 Mile House’s six new permanent paramedics have arrived

Richard Miller is one of six new full-time paramedics in Station 327

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

In your own backyard: Ruth Lake

An afternoon of napping on Ruth Lake

Anyone but England

A weekly sports column by the 100 Mile Free Press

From the archives of the 100 Mile Free Press

38 Years Ago (1980): The provincial government dispensed over $28,000 in grants… Continue reading

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Non-union construction industry fears exclusion in B.C.

Premier John Horgan imposes ‘project labour agreements’ for public works

BC Wildfire says Kamloops wildfire ‘being held’

Firefighters worked tirelessly this weekend to stop the spread of a wildfire east of Kamloops.

Trump, Putin sit down a bit late for closely watched summit

Trump and Putin arrived Monday at Helsinki’s presidential palace for a long-awaited summit.

In TV interview, Trump claims queen called Brexit ‘complex’

Asked the queen’s view on Brexit, Trump said: “She said it’s a very complex problem.”

Exotic corpse flower begins to emit its putrid scent at Vancouver conservatory

A unique and exotic tropical plant, acclaimed for its size and abhorred for its smell, is blooming at a Vancouver conservatory.

CREA reports June home sales down 10.7% from year ago, but up from May

The Canadian Real Estate Association says home sales in June were down 10.7 per cent compared with a year ago.

Tens of thousands give heroes’ welcome to Croatia team

Euphoria gave way to a mixture of disappointment and pride for Croatia fans after their national team lost to France in its first ever World Cup final.

Crews battle fire northeast of Terrace

The 10-hectare fire was discovered Saturday

Most Read