It was a long time coming for Edmonton motorists; the new Walterdale Bridge opened to traffic on Monday morning after more than two years of delays.
“It’s beautiful. Enjoy it. It’s something that we’ll be proud of into the future,” Mayor Don Iveson said.
Two of three lanes opened to traffic on Monday. The city said third lane will open in October.
Motorists shared their first trip across the new bridge on social media.
Pedestrians won’t be able to use the new Walterdale bridge until the sidewalk is completed sometime in October. Until then, pedestrians can use the west sidewalk of the old bridge.
A shared-use path will open later this fall along with some surrounding trails, according to the city. Some trail connections can’t be finished until the old bridge is removed.
Watch below: Now that the new Walterdale Bridge is open to traffic, what will happen to the bridge that it is replacing? Tom Vernon reports.
The city said the access road out of the Kinsmen Sports Centre will be realigned and the old bridge will be demolished once pedestrian and vehicle traffic moves completely to the new bridge, which will be completed in 2018.
The fact the entire project isn’t yet completed didn’t damper the excitement of many commuters on Monday.
The $155-million Walterdale Bridge project began in the spring of 2013.
Construction was initially scheduled to be complete in fall of 2015. However, during the spring of 2015 the date was pushed back because the bridge’s 42 steel beams, which were made in South Korea, began arriving months later than expected.
The new bridge was then scheduled to open in late 2016, but it was pushed back again to mid-2017 because of weather-sensitive work, including asphalt paving, which couldn’t be done until after winter.
“I think a big learning for us is managing expectations on a project that’s this complex,” Adam Laughlin, deputy city manager of integrated infrastructure services, said.
“With a project that’s as challenging as this one is, ensuring that we set some milestones and some dates for delivery that reflect the complexity.”
The contractor, Acciona-Pacer Joint Venture, has been charged two kinds of penalties for the delays: $10,000/day for site occupancy and $7,000/day for administration costs.
The site occupancy penalties started accruing on June 12, 2015 — the day APJV promised the bridge would open — while the administration costs penalties started accruing on Oct. 15, 2016.
The total cost of penalties is estimated to be between $10-$12 million so far.
“One thing I want to emphasize is that we’ve held the contractor accountable all the way along with penalty, and those continue to mount and those will continue to mount until it’s completely completed,” Iveson said.
“Even though it’s taken longer, the taxpayers’ interests have been protected and this project will be on or under budget even though it’s delayed.”