Flora Footbridge is on schedule and budget

By: John Dance

The $21 million Flora Footbridge that grew rapidly last year is progressing well but, as per the construction schedule, won’t open until the end of October.

The imposing structure is on budget and looks tantalizingly close to completion. Yet, according to Stephen Forestell, the City of Ottawa’s program manager for municipal design and construction, much remains to be done.

After more than a year of continuous work when the piles were driven, abutments and piers constructed, steel girders erected and concrete decks poured, workers took a seven-week break starting in December. During the Canal skating season crews cleared around the bridge piers which double as seating areas.

Work has now resumed but will not be fully underway until the spring when concrete can be poured for the “switchback” ramp between Colonel By Drive and Echo Drive. Meanwhile, the rest of the footbridge railings are being fabricated in North Bay.

Other work includes the installation of railings and wooden handrails and the handrail lighting. On the Glebe side the lookout area joining the western ramp and the bridge span will be completed. In addition, extensive landscaping on both sides is required, particularly on the west side where the Lily Pond is to be restored.

“If work gets done ahead of time we will re-evaluate the opening date,” says Forestell.

Because of safety considerations, the bridge cannot be used by the public while it remains a construction site.

When the bridge’s structural lighting was tested in November, some residents in Old Ottawa East commented that it was too bright. In response, Luc Marineau, acting manager, design and construction, told The Mainstreeter, “The lighting intensity will be determined with the National Capital Commission before opening the bridge.The lights are white only.”

The City has not yet released the names of the winning artists and their designs for the public art benches, one of which is to be in the Lily Pond area on the Glebe side and the other on the plaza area at the foot of the stairs on the Old Ottawa East side.

One glimmer of hope for the bridge opening earlier than October is the example of the Adawe Footbridge which opened six months earlier than scheduled. On the other hand, the footbridge over the Airport Parkway opened more than a year later than it was supposed to.

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