City eyes $14M Vic­to­ria Bridge re­place­ment

The London Free Press - - LOCAL - ME­GAN STACEY THE LON­DON FREE PRESS

An aging Lon­don bridge that car­ries 12,000 ve­hi­cles be­tween down­town and Old South daily is be­ing eyed for a $14-mil­lion re­place­ment.

The 1926- vin­tage Vic­to­ria Bridge, which strad­dles the Thames River on Rid­out Street, is de­te­ri­o­rat­ing rapidly and needs to be re­placed soon, city staff said in a stark re­port.

“Any time we talk about bridges, we want to make sure they’re in good work­ing or­der. The other thing we know about bridges is that they’re not cheap. But it’s work that has to be done,” Coun. Tanya Park, whose Ward 13 in­cludes part of the bridge, said of the plan.

City staff de­tailed the struc­ture’s flaws in a re­port head­ing to coun­cil’s civic works com­mit­tee next week, writ­ing that Vic­to­ria Bridge is “show­ing ad­vanced de­te­ri­o­ra­tion,” forc­ing es­ca­lat­ing and emer­gency re­pairs.

Some parts of the orig­i­nal 1875 bridge — in­clud­ing the cen­tre pier, which was later widened — are part of the cur­rent struc­ture, but it does not carry a her­itage des­ig­na­tion.

The bridge is part of a key cor­ri­dor for those who travel to and from Old South, in­clud­ing ve­hi­cles and bi­cy­cle traf­fic. The pro­posed re­place­ment project would close Rid­out Street south of the bridge for a year and reroute cy­clists onto a tem­po­rary bridge.

Im­prove­ments also would be made to the por­tion of the Thames Val­ley Park­way run­ning below one end of the bridge dur­ing con­struc­tion.

Park is ea­ger to see op­tions for cy­clists.

“We have to have a good plan in place. The Thames Val­ley Park­way is a very heav­ily used path sys­tem, be­cause there are a lot of cy­clists that live in south Lon­don and cen­tral Lon­don,” she said.

But the new Vic­to­ria Bridge isn’t ex­pected to be built be­fore 2021, and the cash has to be al­lo­cated dur­ing the next multi-year bud­get.

The sug­gested re­place­ment, an arched bridge, would be roomier. The pro­posed span would in­clude two ve­hi­cle lanes, a side­walk, an on-street bi­cy­cle lane on the east side of the bridge and a multi-use path­way on the west. mstacey@postmedia.com twit­ter.com/Me­ganatLFPress

ME­GAN STACEY/ THE LON­DON FREE PRESS

Vic­to­ria Bridge, on Rid­out Street south of Hor­ton, is de­te­ri­o­rat­ing rapidly and pegged for a $14-mil­lion re­place­ment. A re­port de­tail­ing re­sults of an en­vi­ron­men­tal study of the project heads to city coun­cil’s civic works com­mit­tee next week.

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