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Key Number: HS 54254
Site Name: High Level Bridge
Other Names:
Site Type: 0807 - Transportation - Rail Facility: Train Trestle, Bridge or Tunnel
0909 - Transportation - Road Facility: Bridge or Tunnel

Location

ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
52 24 4


Address: 91 to 98 Avenue - 109 Street
Number:
Street: 109
Avenue: 91 - 98
Other:
Town: Edmonton
Near Town:

Media

Type Number Date View
Digital scan of Negative
79-R0471-01
1979/08/01
SE

Architectural

Style:
Plan Shape:
Storeys:
Foundation:
Superstructure: Poured Concrete
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure:
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes:
Exterior: Foundation: 32 concrete piers and pedestals.
Structure: Top deck: CPR rail line flanked by street railway tracks.
Bottom deck: 23 feet roadway and 8 foot sidewalks.
Interior: N/A
Environment: Neighbourhood: Register A Bridges The principal crossing of the North Saskatchewan River and a city-wide landmark. A major feature in the city's river landscape. The bridge approach gradient was 5% on the south side, level on the north with no level crossing.
Condition: Good Renovated: 1995
Alterations: VG The approaches have been altered, the illumination has been changed, and the streetcar tracks and overhead wires have been removed. A fountain has been added. Overall, the character remains unchanged. June 1931. A new south approach to bridge is completed, consisting of a new eastern arm. It is built by the Canadian Bridge Company, Walkerville, Ontario. Spring 1939. A new lighting system is installed. The original steel standards are replaced by shaded lights set among the beams. July-October 1971. Major bridge repairs are undertaken, including rearranging the girders at the approaches and resurfacing the lower deck. The engineer is G.D. Morrison Consultants Ltd. Summer 1980. The 'Great Divide Waterfall' is constructed. Its first showing is on 2 September 1980. January 1984. Restoration work is undertaken on two concrete piers by Square M. Contractors Ltd. Renovated: 1995.

Historical

Construction: Construction Date:
Construction Started
Construction Ended
1910/10/08
1913/01/06
Usage: Usage Date:
Rail and road bridge
Railway Line
Vehicular bridge

1913/06/13
1913/08/11
Owner: Owner Date:
Canadian Pacific Railway Company
Calgary and Edmonton Railway Company
City of Edmonton



Architect: Phillip Motley
Builder: John B. Gunn & Sons
Craftsman: N/A
History: 1910 - Excavations for piers began
1913 - June 2: First train across bridge.
	Aug. 11: First street car traffic.
	Aug. 31: First pedestrian traffic.
	Oct..: Roadway finally opened to motor traffic.
Cost of construction was shared by CPR, Municipal, Provincial and Federal Governments. Top of bridge is nearly 200' above water, and is 2,478 feet in length. Cost $1,500,000. Gave Canadian Pacific Railway entrance into city.
*	*	*
The High Level Bridge was completed in 1913, at a total cost of $2,000,000. This cost was shared by the C.P.R., the Federal and Provincial Governments and the City of Edmonton. Its height is 157' above water level, its length is 2,478 feet and its width is 43'. This bridge is unique because it is 'Overbuilt' (reportedly, has a safety factor of 8; present time of 2 1/2 +) for its time.

The first train crossed on June 13, 1913 and the first street car crossed the High Level Bridge on August 12, 1913
**
Declared a 'Historic Civil Engineering Site' by Canadian Society for Civil Engineering in 1987.
**

Built by the Canadian Pacific Railway, whose subsidiary line (the Calgary and Edmonton Railway) was the first to reach the Edmonton area.
Closely associated with the communities of Edmonton and Stratchona.

The building of the High Level Bridge was the principal factor in the amalgamation of Edmonton and Strathcona.
This structure, better than any other bridge or freestanding structure in Edmonton, illustrates the importance of the railway in the early history of the city and the amalgamation of Edmonton and Strathcona.

The High Level Bridge was built in 1910-13 by the Canadian Pacific Railway to carry railway, streetcar, automotive, and pedestrian traffic between the south and north banks of the North Saskatchewan River.

Among the longest, highest, and heaviest spans in Canada, and the first bridge to carry four different modes of traffic, it stands as Edmonton's premier railway landmark from the great age of municipal expansion and was instrumental in bringing about the amalgamation of Strathcona with Edmonton.

ORIGINS
The first rails to reach the Edmonton area were those of the Calgary and Edmonton Railway, an affiliate of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which established its terminus on the south bank of the North Saskatchewan River in 1891. The town that quickly grew up around the station was named Strathcona (after C.P.R. director Lord Strathcona) and quickly rivalled the older, but less accessible, settlement of Edmonton on the north bank. Travel between the two communities was initially made by descending the steep bank and using John Walter's ferry, located on the flats now known as Walterdale.

The Edmonton, Yukon and Pacific Railway united the two river banks in November 1902. Its line began at the C E's marshalling yards, wended its way down Mill Creek Ravine, crossed the water on the newly completed Low Level Bridge (built by the federal government in 1897-1902), and climbed MacDougall Hill to its depot, which was located about half way up to Fort Edmonton. At best this rail link was a stopgap measure, hindered by its difficult grades and because the EY P was a subsidiary of William Mackenzie and Donald Mann's Canadian Northern Railway, the CPR's upstart rival. The Canadian Northern's main line from Winnipeg and Saskatoon reached Edmonoton's north side in the fall of 1905.

The CPR had been anticipating the coming of this second transcontinental railway and was determined to meet the competition by establishing a line into Edmonton. As early as January 1903 the Bulletin reported that the CPR was looking for a river crossing of its own. The idea of a high level bridge was first mentioned in the paper on 22 May. CPR President Sir Thomas Shaughnessy visited Edmonton the next year, and in May 1905 the company announced that it would build a rail line northwestward from the Strathcona Station to Legal Street (109 Street), at which point it would cross the river and run beside the new Legislative Building as far north as Jasper Avenue.

Negotiations with property owners and the municipalities began shortly afterwards and dragged on for some four years. The City of Strathcona was the first to propose a combined rail and road bridge (in 1906) and the CPR agreed to build a second deck for this purpose.

In 1908 the electric street railway companies of Edmonton and Strathcona decided to merge, leading to a decision to include streetcar tracks on the bridge. Pedestrians were accommodated as well. The combination of these four modes of transportation was unprecedented in the West.

The citizens of Edmonton approved the bridge by better than a three-to-one margin in a referendum held on 18 November 1909, and twelve days later the city signed a memorandum of agreement with the C E and the CPR. The lengthy document set out the responsibilities of the various parties. It addressed operating rights and tax exemptions, and stipulated that the CPR would build and maintain the bridge, but that the maintenance of the decks was the City's responsibility. The cost of construction, which eventually surpassed $2 million, was shared among the CPR (47.8%), the cities of Edmonton (21.1%) and Strathcona (4.4%), and the provincial (15.5%) and federal (11.2%) governments.

More than any other factor, the bridge is credited with having brought about the union of Edmonton and Strathcona. Heeding the advice of Mayor Arthur Davies and other prominent citizens, the voters of Strathcona voted for amalgamation in September 1911, and the merger occurred on 1 February 1912.
CONSTRUCTION Work on the High Level Bridge began in 1910. CPR engineers staked out the right-of-way in May, tenders for the substructure closed in July, and the contract was awarded in early August to John Gunn and Sons of Winnipeg, who had built the CPR's Lethbridge Viaduct. Soon afterwards excavation for the piers and abutments began. Four massive reinforced concrete piers were set in the river bed and rose about 125 feet. The Gunn company also built 62 smaller piers that support the steel legs of the bridge along the flats on the Strathcona side and form the concrete abutments on the Edmonton side. The work was not without its share of unfortunate incidents, as several workers lost their lives and a major cave-in occurred during the first fall and winter. The substructure was completed late in 1911.

The contract for the steel superstructure was let to the Canadian Bridge Company Ltd. of Walkerville, Ontario. The steel was fabricated at their Ontario plant and shipped by rail to Strathcona, where a storage and erection yard was set up. Work on the bridge progressed from south to north. The steel components were moved by flat car to the bridge, where a large steam-powered traveller crane lifted and held them in place for riveting. The bottom girders were supported on temporary falsework--itself comprising a substantial bridge--as the other steel members were assembled.

The bridge extends 2,550 feet--about a half-mile--from one end to the other. The main structure crosses the river on three massive centre spans, each consisting of a Pratt truss 288 feet long.

The Strathcona approach consists of seven spans, each a Pratt truss 96 feet long; and six tower spans, 47 feet long, that rest on the tall steel 'legs'. Two Warren trusses, each about 130 feet long, form the approach end. The upper deck is about 152 feet above the mean river level; each deck is 39 feet wide.

The top deck supports a railway track down the centre and originally had a streetcar track on either side of it. The lower deck, which supports the road and a pedestrian walkway at either side, is about 20 feet lower. The construction of the lower deck is reinforced concrete, supported by steel beams, and the two-lane roadway originally consisted of creosoted wood blocks. The roadway and sidewalks curve out from beneath the tracks at either side; at the Edmonton side the roadway splits, with one lane at either side; at the Strathcona side both lanes curve to the east.

The steelworkers struck in October 1912 over the issue of pay, demanding equity with workers in the city at fifty cents an hour for a nine-hour day. They remained out of work for some six weeks until a settlement was reached. Further delays were encountered when movement was detected in two pedestal piers (beneath the legs) in the spring of 1913. Steelwork was finally completed in May 1913.

On 2 June 1913 the first passenger train crossed the bridge from Strathcona to Edmonton, carrying seven cars and 200 passengers.
The Journal reported that the crossing occurred:
With the blowing and shrieking of many whistles and sirens,
cheers from the scores of workmen employed on the bridge, and
the hurrahs of the two hundred or more passengers.

The first streetcar crossed on 11 August. The entire bridge--the roadway, pedestrian walkways, and streetcar tracks--was finally considered completed on 12 September, some three years after the commencement of construction. A temporary station was built at 98 Avenue until the new overpasses and subways were completed; the permanent station (now demolished) was located just north of Jasper Avenue.

The design of the bridge was credited to engineer Phillips B. Motley, Engineer of Bridges in the CPR's Bridge Department in Montreal. The Canadian Bridge Company's contracting engineer was G.E. Roehm, and C.M. Goodrich was its designing engineer.

J.E. Schwitzer, the CPR's Assistant Chief Engineer (and designer of the Lethbridge Viaduct), evidently also had a hand in the overall concept and design.
The High Level Bridge was unique in Western Canada in its combination of three vehicular modes. It was one of four great bridges completed by the CPR in the years 1909-12. The longest was the Lethbridge Viaduct, which extends 5,327 (more than a mile) feet across the Oldman River; the heaviest was the Lachine Bridge over the St. Lawrence River, which contains nearly 28.5 million pounds of steel; the other was the Outlook Bridge across the South Saskatchewan River. Although the High Level Bridge was not as long as the other three, nor as heavy as those at Lachine and Lethbridge, nor as high as the Lethbridge Viaduct, its combination of size and uses nevertheless ranks it among the great bridge-building achievements in Canada.

SUBSEQUENT ALTERATIONS AND RECENT EVENTS

The High Level Bridge has undergone a number of alterations since its completion, although its appearance remains essentially unchanged.

The automobile approach at the south end was judged unsatisfactory from the beginning, because large girders posed a hazard at the entrance. The south approach was consequently rebuilt in 1931.

The lighting system was changed in 1939. The original globe lamps on steel standards were removed and reinstalled at the fairgrounds, and new shaded lights were set among the beams. These were judged superior because they created no glare. The present lighting system is different again; it consists of unshaded fixtures, also set against the beams. The date of its installation is not known.

Around 1948 it was proposed that four lanes of automobile traffic--including trolley buses--be placed on the top deck, replacing the streetcar lines. (Streetcar service would cease in 1951). Two lanes would be placed on either side of the train track, and the lover deck would be used only for pedestrians, bicycles, and utility lines.

One of the advocates of this change was the celebrated Montreal bridge designer P.L. Pratley. Debate over this proposal continued for decades, with the alternative being the construction of a new six-lane high level bridge further east, on the alignment of 105 Street. In the end, neither initiative was undertaken. City Engineer J.D.A.

MacDonald declared the discussion over in 1966 because the changes to the bridge would be two expensive and incur too many design problems.

The 20-year delay resulted in the avoidance of normal maintenance and consequent deterioration to the bridge. In October 1967 it was determined that the concrete lower deck had been severely damaged by road salt and exposure to the weather and required replacement. Once again, the issue of placing four traffic lanes on top was raised--the streetcar tracks had been removed in March of that year--but this was not done.

Repairs were finally undertaken in 1971. The bridge was closed from July to October while the lower deck was replaced and girders were rearranged at both end to replace 'hairpin' turns at the approaches. (Apparently the 1931 changes to the south approach were inadequate). The engineer was Ken Philip of G.D. Morrison Consultants Ltd., and the contractor was Alta-West Construction Ltd.

The next change to the bridge was aesthetic rather than structural. In 1978 artist Peter Lewis, a teacher at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, proposed a scheme to make the High Level Bridge into a waterfall. He suggested that water be pumped from the Rossdale treatment plant to pipes on the bridge, and noted that the discharge would fall about 175 feet (in actuality about 150 feet), which would have been higher than Niagara Falls. Citizens debated the issue for some time --Olive Elliot of the Journal spoke for many when she said that the scheme was 'absurdly frivolous, of course, but that's its charm.' Council approved the proposal in May 1980, work proceeded that summer, and the 'Great Divide Waterfall' first operated on 2 September 1980. It continues to be used on holidays and special occasions, to the delight of Edmontonians and visitors.

In 1982 both traffic lanes were made southbound and the 105 Street Bridge was made northbound. This relieved traffic congestion somewhat. However, the bridge continued to suffer from deferred maintenance. Two of the tall concrete piers were repaired in 1984, and additional deterioration was noted.

CP Rail stopped using the bridge for its trains in 1989. The City of Edmonton considered a proposal to accommodate a tourist streetcar and a walkway-bicycle path (as a part of the Heritage Trail) on the upper deck. It commissioned engineers Bolter Parish Trimble Ltd. to assess to the condition and maintenance needs of the bridge.

The report (issued in December 1990) indicated that corrosion has reduced the cross-sectional area of the steel members by a significant amount, that metal fatigue is considerable, and that concrete deterioration has occurred on the piers. They estimated rehabilitation costs at $16 million, plus continuing maintenance expenditures. This was contrasted with a cost of $13 million for the new LRT bridge (a much smaller and lower structure) next to it.

A debate between the City and CP Rail ensued. The city maintains that the railway is responsible for the maintenance of the bridge under the terms of the original agreement, and CP Rail has responded by rescinding an earlier offer to lease the bridge to the City for a dollar a year. The debate continues, as the bridge continues to be used--it is in no danger of collapse--and to deteriorate.
**

The High Level Bridge, designed by Phillips B. Motley, Engineer of bridges for the Canadian Pacific Railway, was constructed between 1910 and 1913 at a cost of two million dollars. It was the first bridge in Canada to carry four different modes of traffic -- rail, streetcar, automobile and pedestrian. The first passenger train, seven cars long with 200 passengers, crossed the bridge from Strathcona to Edmonton on June 2, 1913.

This structure is approximately one-half mile long and stands 152 feet above the mean river level. The construction of the High Level Bridge was a significant engineering achievement for the time. Today the bridge remains a distinctive city landmark.

**
The High Level Bridge links Edmonton with Strathcona, the south bank of the Saskatchewan River to the north bank, and the provincial legislature with the University of Alberta. It is also 'mile zero' of the Alaska Highway. As such, it is the physical and psychological link between the 'Great North' and the 'Lands of the South', and represents the very starting point of adventure.

At 2800 feet in length and 156 feet in height, the High Level Bridge is second in size in Alberta only to the Lethbridge High Level Bridge.

At the time it was built, the High Level Bridge was unique in the West for the variety of traffic it carried. Men worked on it, day and night, from August 1910 until September 1913. The work involved building dams so that the four massive concrete piers which support the two-deck structural steel span could be poured. The final cost was approximately $2, 000, 000 and three workmen's lives. John Gunn Sons of Winnipeg was the general contractor, with the Raymond Pile Co. of Montreal doing the pile work and Pennie Kerr of Edmonton Builders' Exchange responsible for the excavation work. The Canadian Bridge Co. was employed for the structural steel work. On the third of October, 1912, fifty of their steelworkers walked off the job.

They demanded a new contract which included a 9 hour working day (as opposed to a 10 hour a day), and a nickel-per-hour increase from 45 cents to 50 cents. The strike was brief, creating only a minor disruption, and unfortunately no records could be found as to whether or not their demands were met.
When the High Level Bridge was finished, it accommodated rail traffic on the upper deck, and two-way traffic with streetcars and automobiles below.

Streetcars were removed from the bridge in 1951, and automobile traffic was made one-way southbound in 1980. In 1967 the City of Edmonton contemplated painting the bridge gold in honour of Canada's Centennial, and in 1980 pumps, piping, and sprinklers were installed on the east side of the bridge to form a huge waterfall.

This is turned on every year on July 1 for Canada Day celebrations, as well as several other times during the course of the summer, and is a very popular spectacle.

**
HLB (1913-1981)
High above and close to the old Hudson's Bay Company river ford stretches a steel bridge of 157 feet in height, 2,478 feet in length, and 43 feet in width. Ever since its completion in 1913, the High Level Bridge (at 109 and 110 Streets) has been an easily distinguishable landmark in the City.

Construction on the bridge began in August, 1910 and was completed three years later. For the first time, C.P.R. trains could enter Edmonton directly from the south; they previously used the E.Y.P. connection across the Low Level Bridge. On the crest of the bridge ran the C.P.R. tracks, which both the trains and the Edmonton Radial Railway street cars crossed daily. Encased by metal bars is a road for vehicles; it is sandwiched between two pedestrian paths.

The High Level Bridge is supported by thirty-two piers and pedestals. There are four large central piers, one at each end of the bridge.
John B. Gunn and Sons of Winnipeg received the contract for the erection of the bridge. Cost of the High Level Bridge ran to $2,000,000; a cost which was footed by the C.P.R., the Federal and Provincial Governments, and the City of Edmonton.

In 1995 the High Level Bridge was overhauled and refitted in a project funded by the City of Edmonton, the Province of Alberta and the government of Canada.
BRIDGE THAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE This summer, Edmonton's High Level Bridge has had more attention focused on it than it has had for 84 years. When it was being built back 1911, everybody in town kept an eye on the construction process, and this summer, there have been even more eyes on the plastic wrap north shore, marking the progress of the restoration process.

After all those years, it was to be expected that the grand old lady of cross river traffic should be due for a face-lift. It will be nice to have it back in service again, even though the traffic nightmares that were predicted when the closure of the bridge was first announced didn't prove to be as serious as feared. The High Level Bridge has been a part of cross-river traffic since back when Edmonton and Strathcona decided to become one city instead of two.

We may never know whether the union of the two communities came about because of the construction of the bridge or whether the amalgamation would have taken place anyway. It was probably just a matter of time, but with the announcement of the proposed construction of the bridge, the political realities became more apparent. Two rival communities, one on the north side of the river and the other on the south, just didn't make sense, and the completion of the new bridge would make cross river traffic at the level of the top of the river banks a reality.

In Edmonton's game of political poker, bridges across the North Saskatchewan have been aces. As long as the trains stopped in Strathcona, on the south side, Scona had an edge. Edmonton, pushing Ottawa for a bridge at the time of the gold rush in 1898, were told that if they could raise $25,000 towards Edmonton's share, the Federal Government would build it. In 1898 that was a lot of money for any community to raise, but the businessmen of the city did just that.
They pooled the cash, wired it to Ottawa, and called the bluff. The Low Level Bridge was the result.

But we really needed a crossing at the level of the top of the banks on either side, and an agreement between the Canadian Pacific Railway, the City of Edmonton, the Government of Alberta, and the Federal Government prepared. We know that the agreement to build the bridge was signed in 1909, and that work got under way in 1910.

The total cost was about $2 million, and it was finished and open for business, it was the only bridge of its kind in the world. It had two lines of street car tracks across the top, a railroad track down the middle of the top deck, two lines of vehicular traffic on the lower deck, and two pedestrian walkways.

The bridge's vital statistics are well documented. It took 5,000 gallons of paint to give it the first two coats, there were 1,400,000 rivets used to hold the steel members together, and we know that there are half a million cubic feet of concrete in the piers.

If you really want the win first prize in the next Trivial Pursuit game, write this down. On a hot July day when the temperature is plus 27 degrees Celsius, the bridge is 22 inches longer than it is on a cold day in February when the temperature is 32 degrees Celsius.
That's a tricky thing to work into a conversation, but it certainly impresses people.

On a sadder note, four men lost their lives during the construction of the bridge. And as is so often the case, there was a little political wrangling involved in the actual opening. The original traffic deck was paved with wooden blocks, and that worked well for the traffic of the time. That road surface was all ready to be used on September 11, 1913, but the Provincial Government hadn't paid its share of the total cost, so the Canadian Pacific Railway people wouldn't let anyone open the bridge until the end of September that year. Of course there were a lot of un-official openings, but somehow those aren't well documented.

The first official train across the bridge made the trip on June 2, 1913, and later on that summer, on August 11, street cars began to cross the top deck as well.
Old Edmontonians remember that the street cars used to travel on what seemed to be the wrong side of the bridge's top deck. If you were southbound, you crossed on the east side, and the opposite side if you were going north. The thinking was that if the street car stopped for any reason, power failure or whatever, you could get off the car onto the top deck of the bridge. If the street cars were on the other side, you would be stepping off into space. And that first step was a long one.

If you were sitting on the left side of the street car and looked down, you couldn't see the bridge itself, and for your five cent street car ride you got one of the more exciting trips in town.

During World War II there was a group of New Zealand airmen crossing on the street car. They looked out the front window and saw and approaching CPR train. They were convinced that they were doomed, and would never see the war over France. But they made it to the other side safely, and went on to the safer business of flying fighter planes.

There have been a lot of interesting pieces of Edmonton history woven into and around the bridge. Not everyone remembers that in 1967, in honour of Centennial Year, we gave serious consideration to painting the bridge with gold paint. And then, a few more years dawn the road Edmonton marked the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Province of Alberta. To mark that great event, we had a waterfall installed on the downstream side, and went on to fame as the only city in the world with water that went off the bridge instead of under it.

There was a verbal dust up a little while ago when someone threw a bathroom scale over the side to mark a successful dietary program. It was a valid move to curb pollution, but in the earlier days of the bridge there was another tradition that involved throwing things over the side. The graduating class of nurses at the University Hospital would take off their black stockings and turf them over the rail to mark their move to the white stockings of graduate nurses.

But it won't be long now, and our High Level Bridge, freshly painted and completely restored, will be open for business.
It will be nice to have her back.

BACK IN BLACK

The story of the High Level Bridge is one of frontier tenacity, engineering ingenuity and a long history of transportation service bringing people together. It's a great tale and now, 85 years after she began to take shape, the latest chapter is nearly told.

More than six months after rehabilitation work began, the grand Edmonton landmark will reopen to traffic next Sunday. A $19.9 million dollar facelift is nearly complete and, despite a few glitches along the way, the project is on time and on budget. It's been a massive undertaking.

Work included structural repairs to the spans and piers, sandblasting, painting, repairs to the road deck, sidewalk rejuvenation and construction of a new pedestrian and cycle pedway on the west side of the bridge. The expansion, with new supports underneath and a new guardrail, adds 1.5 meters to the width of the sidewalk.

The restoration marks the first time many parts of the venerable structure have been repaired since it was finished in 1913. Owned by Canadian Pacific Railway until being bought by the city three years ago, the 800-metre long and 50 metre high bridge was in dire need of some loving care.

That the High Level has survived so well with a lack of maintenance is a testament to the workmanship of those who built it. 'The scope of the work has given a lot of us an appreciation for the achievement of building the bridge whit the technology of 1910,' remarks Wayne Wood, public information officer for Edmonton Transportation.

The bridge that more than any other says 'Edmonton', is admittedly a bit of an ugly duckling. But there's no doubt the old gal is a survivor and, with her new coat of black paint, road surface and new and improved sidewalks, appears ready to take on the next 85 years.

Led by Edmonton-based PCL Constructors, crews of as many as 200 at one time worked gradually and meticulously from the bridge to the north. After a lifetime of service, sandblasting uncovered a lot of rust and some spans that needed reinforcement. In some places, workers were able to put their hands right through the metal.

A system of giant tarps and a massive vacuum were designed and used to keep the lead-based paint out of the North Saskatchewan River and protect workers. 'It was almost like a scuba type of operation, sucking the old paint out and into sealed bags.' Wood reports. The paint is being transferred to the Cominco lead smeltering plant in Trail, B.C.

A special trailer on the site allowed labourers to change from work clothes and take a decontamination shower. A special hygienist was also on the site at all times to assist with any paint in eyes, ears or nostrils. During a health and safety audit in early August, the site passed inspection with flying colors.

Rainy, humid weather slowed the project in August, but the team made up for lost time with the dry conditions through September. The bridge will reopen as scheduled November 12th.

Although it has been closed to traffic for nearly seven months, the snafu that many predicted would develop never did. While vehicles have, at times, been bumper-to-bumper up Queen Elizabeth Park Road, the closure has resulted in only minor delays for motorists. 'People adjusted very well and many began to utilize the James Macdonald Bridge and Groat Bridge,' Wood notes.

The top deck of the High Level was not included during this rehabilitation and the city and the province are engaged in discussions about future uses for the former railway level of the structure. 'There's a lot of interest in running railcars across the top and of course the streetcar proposal, but at this point, we're just looking at possibilities,' Wood reports.

This week and next, crews are working on the road deck to reinstall the trolley lines for transit and water lines for the Great Divide Waterfall. After the bridge reopens to traffic, work will continue under the road deck on the piers and painting of the spans. In all, 22,000 gallons (100,000 litres) of paint will be used on the project.

While some floated the idea of painting the bridge a colour other than historically correct black, the city n e v e r contemplated the possibility. 'The bridge was black, always has been, and as a significant historic resource demanded to be painted that way anew,' offers city heritage planner Darryl Cariou. 'To do otherwise would have been, well, unthinkable.' So, she's back in black. It's a fitting tribute to those who devised her and toiled to build her.
Hats off to those who worked so hard to make it happen. You've done Edmonton proud.

Internal

Status: Status Date:
Active

Designation Status: Designation Date:
Municipal A List

Register: A113
Record Information: Record Information Date:
S. Khanna 1992/12/14

Links

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Alberta Register of Historic Places:
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