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Watch Big Blue come down online
For those mourning the impending loss of the Johnson Street Bridge, and those hotly anticipating its replacement, all can watch the $77-million job unfold from the comfort of their computer screen.
The city is seeking bids on a contract to install and maintain an outdoor camera on top of Mermaid Wharf, at 407 Swift St., to record the work.
"We thought that just because of the interest in the project, it would be something that would be very useful," said project director Mike Lai.
Once the webcam is set up, people will be able to go to the project website (www.johnsonstreetbridge.com) to watch the work as it progresses.
"It will be similar to the highway webcams set up around the province," said Lai. "(The still image) will refresh every so often, and I'm not sure what the interval will be."
After the project is finished, the city aims to create a time-lapse video for presentation purposes.
"Our hope is that the webcam can be set up in time for the deconstruction of the rail bridge," said Lai.
That timeline has sped up since the city closed the rail span unexpectedly last month for safety reasons.
In December 2009, roughly a dozen companies pre-qualified for the contract to demolish the bridge, including both its rail and traffic span.
Since that time, the scope of the work has changed, therefore requiring a new pre-qualification process.
"The same firms that responded to that have been invited to respond to this one," said Lai, adding several were locally based.
The city's latest request for offers only includes demolishing the rail bridge, as well as moving some underwater utility lines. That means deconstructing the roughly 500-ton steel rail span and tower, as well as the 550-ton concrete counterweight.
"Because of the age of the bridge, trying to go back to the blueprints in 1924 is a bit of a challenge," Lai said. "We're anticipating having a bit more accurate information by the time a call for tenders goes out."
The city aims to have the rail bridge demolished by the end of the year.
Meanwhile the detailed design work of the new bridge continues. The city's consulting team is keeping an eye on the price of steel – a major cost component of the bridge project.
"There has been some increase in the price of raw steel, (but) the price has not exceeding the four-per-cent escalation that's been built into the budget," said Lai.