It officially opened to drivers and pedestrians last year but on Thursday evening, the City of Edmonton held a grand opening for the Walterdale Bridge now that the final trail system around the bridge has been opened to the public.
WATCH: On Sept. 7, 2018 Albert Delitala filed a report looking into the final price tag of Edmonton’s Walterdale Bridge
Mayor Don Iveson got emotional as he spoke about what he believes the bridge has already come to mean to the city. He said he believes Edmontonians who loved the old Walterdale Bridge are being won over by its replacement.
“Everybody and their family had some nostalgia for a bridge that served this community and bridged the two sides of this river for 100 years,” he said. “But nobody’s talking about that anymore… because people are absolutely in love with this thing.
WATCH: On Aug. 28, 2018, Vinesh Pratap filed this report about parts of Edmonton’s river valley trail system around the new Walterdale Bridge once again being open to use after about a five-year wait.
Among those who attended Thursday’s ceremony were the descendants of John Walter, for whom the bridge was named after. Walter was an early settler who ran a ferry on the North Saskatchewan River.
Laughlin said the area will likely continue to evolve as a result of the city’s Touch the Water initiative, which aims to bring Edmontonians closer to the river. He said the city is currently in the process of hiring designers to offer initial ideas for the area.
Construction on the $155-million bridge began in 2013 and was initially scheduled to be complete in the fall of 2015. However, there were multiple delays because of late arriving material and weather-sensitive work, leading to the two-year delay of its opening.
WATCH: The new Walterdale Bridge is officially complete and despite the challenges, the city says taxpayers aren’t on the hook for any cost overruns. As Sarah Kraus explains on Global News at 11, it’s already a key fixture in the Edmonton skyline.
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. Last year, Iveson said the contractor already owed the city about $12 million and on Thursday, Laughlin said some of the money has already been recouped.
“We’ve collected damages on this project,” he said. “The project is going to finish… on or under-budget.
“Because there’s legal elements to that, I can’t really discuss much more related to the liquidated damages.”
Laughlin suggested the final budget for the project would be announced once its two-year warranty expires. He added that the delays on the project will offer lessons for future projects.
“For our more complex projects, we want to make sure that we create some manageable expectations around timelines (and) budget scope, because with all construction projects… it’s not an exact science. It does come with some risks and challenges.”
Watch below: The final price tag for Edmonton’s Walterdale Bridge remains unknown. On Thursday, a grand opening was held for the bridge that took much longer to complete than originally projected. Alberta Delitala filed this report on Sept. 7, 2018.
–With files from Global News’ Slav Kornik and Karen Bartko