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

The Disaster Before Christmas: Mission Hospice Society needs public’s help

Leaking pipes and a sewer back up leaves non-profit group with a huge bill it can’t afford to pay

Mission waterfront a priority for council

Mayor: ‘We still see our waterfront as a phenomenal opportunity for the entire community’

Silverdale planning is just beginning

Public meeting shows initial steps; next up will be examining infrastructure

Eight-foot-deep sinkhole appears in dike near Abbotsford/Mission wastewater plant

Crews hope to repair hole by February, but cost not yet known

Casino move, expansion approved by Mission council

Council votes 6-1 in favour of proposal, Chances still need final approval from the BCLC

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

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

Canucks score 3 power-play goals in 4-2 win over Oilers

Vancouver sniper Boeser has 6 goals in last 5 games

VIDEO: Giants head into holidays with a win at home

Vancouver G-Men don’t play next until Dec. 28, after 2-1 victory over Prince George Sunday.

Microscopic parasite found in Prince Rupert water affecting thousands

More than 12,000 residents affected by the boil water advisory issued Dec. 14

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

VIDEO: Giants fall to Royals 4-2 in Victoria Saturday night

Second loss in as many days for G-Men, who are back home in Langley today to take on the Cougars.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

Most Read