The long awaited Fort York pedestrian and cycle bridge had been given new life and is slated to start construction this fall.
BUILD TORONTO staff, along with City of Toronto staff and representatives from the MMM Group Limited, were on hand Thursday night during an community information session held at the Fort York Visitor Centre, 250 Fort York Blvd., to discuss preliminary details of the bridge.
The pedestrian and cycle bridge itself will be in two parts. The first spanning from the southeast corner of the South Stanley Park Extension, which is a new creation stemming from this project, then over the north rail corridor onto the northern portion of the Ordnance Triangle Lands, within the new Ordnance Park.
A second bridge will span from the south side of the Ordnance Triangle Lands over the southern rail corridor onto Fort York Garrison Common. The two bridges will then be connected by a trail within the new park in the Ordnance Triangle.
“It’s going to create a link for bike paths from Trinity-Bellwoods Park through Fort York right down to the waterfront,” said Don Logie, the vice-president of development and investment for BUILD TORONTO.
“It’s a pretty ambitious link, but it’s the last link that’s not on a busy street that provides good access for pedestrians and cyclists.”
Led by the MMM Group, the information session allowed interested community members to look at boards with information on the new pedestrian cycling bridge and ask questions to staff from all three organizations in an informal setting.
The City of Toronto, directed by BUILD TORONTO, is also working with the city’s Waterfront Secretariat on this project.
The bridge is projected to be completed by spring 2017, two years after initial construction begins this fall. The Fort York Bridge has had a long history of rising from the dead after it was scrapped by council during former mayor Rob Ford’s rule in May 2011. The project was initially identified in the 2004 Fort York Public Realm Master Plan and should have been completed in July 2012 for the bicentennial of the War of 1812.
The original design was an S-shaped bridge that extended straight across between Fort York and Wellington Street without a single break. According to Edward Presta, project manager of infrastructure planning with the City of Toronto, that’s one of the reasons why its cost went over budget and was subsequently scrapped.
“It was a marquee landmark piece that was one whole structure that never broke, so it went from one park over both rails,” Presta said.
“So because of the complexity it cost so much.”
The bridge estimated to have gone $6.6 to $8.3 million over its $19.7-million budget. However, Presta explained breaking up the bridge into two short pieces is much more cost-effective.
“There are new alignments with this bridge, they’re shorter, more direct, so that will save us some money,” he said
Aside from a fixed budget, another challenge faced by BUILD TORONTO and the city will be the actual construction process as it involves building a bridge over an active rail corridor. However, Logie isn’t worried, he said the company has already been in talks with Metrolinx, Canadian National Railway and Railway and Canadian Pacific about constructing foundations on either side of the sites. As well as deciding to construct the bridges off site and then bring them over on weekends to set in place to ensure minimal disruption.
In the coming months a design-build model will be implemented, which will have three proposals from designers submit concepts for the bridge that will be judged by a committee consisting of city staff and members of the private sector.
Each design will be judged in four different categories: design, construction, price and project management.
“We’ve said (to the designers,) give us the best looking bridge we can get for this budget,” Logie said.
“We’re confident it will get done, that it’s appealing and will complement the neighbourhood.”
All three designs will be shown to the community in June. For more information on the project, visit http://fortyorkbridge.mmm.ca