A private firm’s garbage truck ran into the Eighth Street Bridge yesterday. From a layperson’s perspective the damage looks horrible. Assiniboine Avenue goes under what appears to be the 1934 portion of the bridge. The support structure at this point is much lower than that of the 1968 portion. The street is split into two lanes under that portion of the bridge. It appears that the truck hit in the westbound lane.


Judge for yourself, but that looks like one very damaged bridge.

Now back to my thoughts on the future of the bridge itself. In a previous post I put forward my reasons for thinking that the city can do without the bridge as a traffic bridge, which when I look at the above images I tend to think that the current bridge may have just reached that state. I wouldn’t drive a car over that bridge today even if it wasn’t closed.

The thing I fear is this. A sudden closing of the bridge is not a good test of my claims. We were not prepared for this, and the Daly Overpass at Eighteenth Street has not been adjusted to this new reality. We do not have a bus route planned for this.

People are going to have delays and frustrations trying to get around during high traffic times on 18th Street, and their one conclusion, the wrong conclusion, is that we need the 8th Street Bridge.

We don’t.

What we need to do is get traffic from the west end off of 18th Street. It is really that simple. If we do something with the tracks on 26th Street and hook it up to Hilton Avenue then we lessen the traffic on 18th. If we lessen the traffic on 18th, then we get rid of the bottleneck on the Daly Overpass. If we get rid of the bottleneck on the Daly Overpass, then the 8th Street Bridge becomes unneeded as a traffic bridge. Do we add a fourth lane to the Daly Overpass. Perhaps, but I don’t necessarily think that’s the problem. However, if we do add a fourth lane that means a new bridge most likely, built by the province, not the city.

And we don’t spend twenty to thirty-four million dollars on a bridge we don’t need.

I fear that this accident is going to cost us more than we ever would have thought, because it will lead people to a conclusion that they should not come to.

I want to see an active transport bridge built there, not a traffic bridge. Even after yesterday it is the only fiscally responsible option.

One further point. What the hell were we doing letting traffic go under a bridge which we know was near end-of-life and which we knew could not take a hit? The fact that we had put up signs shows that we knew a truck hitting the bridge was a possibility. Assiniboine Avenue is not so busy there that we could not have closed it under the bridge. Hindsight is 20/20, but it now seems silly that traffic continued going under that bridge.