The old and new Johnson Street bridges dominate the sunset skyline looking north toward the Gorge Waterway. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

BRIDGING THE GAP: A chronology of the new Johnson Street Bridge project

Political controversy, referendum vote and problems with steel part of long process

April 2009

Victoria city council makes the decision to replace the iconic Blue Bridge and gives approval in principle for the project. The Commonwealth Historic Resource Management Ltd. identifies the old bridge as a “very significant heritage landmark.”

June 2010

The MMM Group identifies rehabilitation costs for the old bridge as $80 million and the cost of a new bridge as $77 million.

July 2009

Council awards a contract to the MMM Group Ltd. to manage the project to replace the 85-year-old structure amid growing criticism of the decision. There is still some debate about whether replacement is the best course of action or whether refurbishment of the old bridge is a viable and preferable option.

August 2010

Council votes to replace the bridge by a near unanimous vote. Coun. Geoff Young votes in opposition to the plan.

November 2010

A rancorous debate about the project ends up with a referendum on whether to allow for the borrowing of up to $49 million to replace the Johnson Street Bridge. The initiative passes by a margin of 61 to 39 per cent. The margin translates into 4,000 votes.

January 2013

The City of Victoria has signed a fixed-price contract worth $63 million to replace the old Johnson Street Bridge by the spring of 2016. Construction to replace the iconic blue bridge in the Inner Harbour is scheduled begin the following spring. It will be the largest capital project in the City’s history. Mayor Dean Fortin assures taxpayers that the fixed-priced deal with PCL Constructors ensures citizens will not see tax increases from the project.

March 2014

The Chinese steel manufacturers, Jiangsu, begin fabrication of the main trusses and large ring rotating mechanism.

April 2014

Jonathan Huggett is brought in to evaluate the project problems. His report is received by council and leads to Huggett being hired as project manager..

July 2014

Victoria receives messages from Atema, PCL’s quality control subcontractor, that its test results show the steel and fabrication to be sub-par. All fabrication work at the plant is stopped. The delay pushes the anticipated completion date for the bridge back to January of 2017.

September 2015

Original completion date for the bridge passes without fanfare. Anticipated opening date for the bridge is now set at July 2017, two years behind schedule.

April 2016

Victoria councillors are asked to approve another $8.2 million for the Johnson Street Bridge project, bringing the latest cost estimate to $105.06 million — $42 million more than the original budget of $63 million. Completion date is set as December of 2017.

July 2016

The City’s senior project manager, who had been working on the bridge project, is removed from his position.

February 2017

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation awards the Teddy to the project as the most wasteful project of the year, citing the increase of $42 million on what started as a $63 million project.

June 2017

The completion date for the bridge is, once again, pushed back due to fabrication problems in China. Estimated opening date is now set for March of 2018, three years behind schedule.

August 2017

The first shipment of steel for the new bridge finally arrives at the Point Hope Shipyard.

September 2017

The final shipment of steel arrives from China, including the 46-metre-long deck span of the bridge.

December 2017

The Dynamic Beast, a gigantic crane barge, arrives in Victoria to install the bridge components. The crane is a one-of-a-kind machine that dominates the downtown work site. Soon after, the rings and counterweights are installed as the bridge begins to take shape.

January 2018

The Dynamic Beast returns to lift the enormous deck span into place. The bridge nears a functional state.

February 2018

The new bridge is raised for the first time.

March 31, 2018

The new bridge opens to vehicle traffic for the first time.

For more stories on the Johnson Street Bridge, click here.

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