Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A virtual tour of Toronto's Cherry St. Bridge

Toronto's Cherry St. Bridge has been touted as an example of a cheap and effective refurbishment project that could inform our analysis of Victoria's Johnson St. Bridge.  It's a few years younger than ours but was designed by the same engineer and, though a little more graceful in design (note the more sculpted counterweights), is very similar to our bridge.

A 2007 refurbishment project, costing some $2.7 million shows up at as an example of a cheap and effective model of what we should consider here in Victoria.  Cherry St. is not in a particularly vulnerable seismic zone - an earthquake is a much bigger threat on the west coast so no doubt none of the work done had to address those issues, but looking at the bridge now, one has to wonder what the money was spent on.

I was in Toronto to attend the Federation of Canadian Municipalities a couple of weeks ago, a conference, where local government leaders have a chance to meet to share strategies and develop policy to help municipalities speak with a single voice on issues of national concern.  The need for ongoing senior government help to repair or replace aging infrastructure was, coincidentally, a major theme running through the conference, as was the need to build more sustainable communities to meet the challenge of climate change.

I made sure I took some extra time to visit the bridge - a long walk from downtown but well worth the exploration (and I'll share some thoughts on outdoor and central food markets, street vendor carts and pedestrian neighbourhoods, as well as transit models I checked out, but I'll do that in another blog.

In the meantime, check out a few of my photos from the Cherry St. Bridge.  I wouldn't use it as a model refurbishment project.  The sculpted counterweights look like they are in good shape and maybe that's where the money was spent.  Everywhere else the bridge is covered in rust and showing serious deterioration.  Concrete sidewalks are crumbling and railings tilting over.  Can't say that a bridge signed "use at your own risk" inspires a great deal of confidence in its structural integrity.

It's pretty clearly not as critical a link in Toronto's more extensive transportation network but it does carry some traffic, notably cyclists heading for the waterfront east of downtown and routes towards "the Beaches" in the east end.  A nice ride with little traffic but like our bridge, not ideally set up for cycling.  Given the neighbourhood though, pedestrian traffic is probably pretty light and cyclists have the sidewalks mostly to themselves.

Toronto's councillor for the ward that includes the bridge also thought their bridge, given its age and condition, wasn't likely to be there much longer.

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