Constructing the Johnson Street Bridge is like fitting together one giant, steel jigsaw puzzle for project director Jonathan Hugget.
The bulk of the fabrication of the main bridge, which is being manufactured in China, is nearly complete. The task is now to ensure all the pieces fit together perfectly — both horizontally and vertically — before the parts are painted and shipped to Victoria for the final assembly.
So far, the north ring and the north truss, have been fitted together horizontally in a trial run. The fit up involved laying the two trusses and two rings on their sides and connecting all the pieces as one.
“One of the challenges was the three connection points, which all have to come together,” Hugget told council during a meeting Thursday as part of the fourth and final update on the project this year.
“If one is out the other two don’t fit, we can’t force them together. They have to fit together nicely. This is not a simple issue . . . the amount of work in making sure the surfaces that come together are dead flat are huge.”
The horizontal fit up of the south ring and south truss is expected to be complete by Christmas, as workers are optimistic their experience with the north fit up will allow them to complete it more quickly than the last.
The next phase includes completing a vertical fit up of the entire bridge to ensure all the components fit. Welding of the span support segments (large steel pieces that attach to the structural steel and on which the bridge opens) is expected to begin in the coming weeks.
Work continues in Victoria as well. Staff have finalized the design of the northeast plaza space adjacent to the Janion building, which will act as a terminus for the Galloping Goose and improve connectivity to the waterfront.
The shipment of steel is expected to arrive in Victoria Harbour in July.
In April, council reluctantly approved an $8.2 million budget increase for the project, bringing the total to roughly $105 million.
According to the most recent report, there will be two more planned budget increase requests to cover the costs of fendering, which is expected to be complete by October of next year, and the development of the public realm around the bridge. A staff report on the public realm will be presented to council early next year.
The project is still on track to be open to traffic by the end of next year, with the project competed by March 31, 2018.