Grand River bridge decades in making in Cambridge
CAMBRIDGE — A brand-new, rusty-looking pedestrian bridge?
That’s what is stretching across the Grand River in Galt.
“It’s quite easy to maintain,” project manager Shane Taylor said of the rusted finish of the made-in-Ayr, corten steel walking bridge that could open after Christmas.
“If graffiti ends up on it, you can wire-brush it off and it looks just the way it did within a couple of days.”
So this is an old no-paint-required look to a new idea, right? Wrong.
This 100-metre wood-bottom dash across the Grand, from near an east-side Water Street South flower shop to a west-side sculpture garden on Grand Avenue South is hardly a new concept.
The mayor didn’t just come up with this back-to-the-river idea leading into last election campaign. This antiquated notion goes back at least 32 years, Taylor says.
This goes back to 1985 when the Grand River Conservation Authority was doing some channel-blasting to increase flood capacity.
Three concrete pillars from an old railway spur bridge were to be blown to smithereens.
Not so fast, the city said to the conservation authority.
“They were taking all three of them down,” explained Taylor, city landscape architect who stumbled upon letters and reports from the mid-80s.
“Our department stepped in and said, ‘We actually want to install a pedestrian bridge here in the future. Can you keep the middle one? So the GRCA did.”
Not only did they save it, they even reinforced it with massive concrete footings.
And that’s what you have holding the circular centre viewing area of the new $2-million pedestrian bridge and walkway areas that were supposed to open in time for Thursday’s ethereal-music, artsy Unsilent Night public walk through the Galt core. But some key parts have yet to arrive. Waist-high glass railings, with aluminum top rail, are on back order. They’re crucial safety features of the middle-of-thebridge, open-air viewing area right above the old pier. Until they arrive and are installed, the bridge can’t open. “It’s just not safe enough,” Taylor said. So the Unsilent Night walking route was redrawn to not cross the pedestrian bridge, which started going up in June. Instead, the route was to cross the Main Street bridge twice, looping in front of the pedestrian bridge at the sculpture gardens.
And while Christmas-minded strollers passed the rusty-looking new bridge, they could take a long look at its two spans stretching out from the old railway bridge pier. One is shorter than the other. The west half is 46 metres. The east half, closest to downtown, is 54.
And the longer east half has thicker structure.
“You wouldn’t notice that unless you look closely,” Taylor said.
At least both sides are equally rustylooking.
The new pedestrian bridge in Galt. The bridge will provide non-vehicular access across the Grand River between Founder’s Point and the Cambridge Sculpture Garden.