On March 31st, thousands of Victoria residents and visitors people came out to say ‘Bye Blue, Hello New’ as the Johnson St. bridge was retired, and the new bridge opened for the first time. For five hours, both bridges were closed to traffic, but open for people to stroll, enjoy the view, and get a close up look at both structures, old and new.
The Greater Victoria Placemaking Network was pleased to be part of the festivities, hosting a raft of family-friendly activities at picnic tables and benches on the Blue Bridge. Kids galore were drawn to bridge-themed cut-outs and hand stamps, while adults shared memories and personal anecdotes about ‘old Blue.’
Last week the main span of Victoria’s iconic Blue Bridge was hauled away on a barge. As spring rolls in, the new bridge is already seeing a surge of people crossing on foot and bike, and enjoying the Inner Harbour from a new perspective. That will only increase once the south sidewalk opens in June, and new public spaces and pathways are created on either end.
Downtown Victoria is in transition, its streets more urban, its residents, buildings, and businesses more diverse and contemporary. The bridge conversion seems both a symbolic and material part of that ongoing change. But Victoria being the small town it is, the move from old to new came in fits and starts, with much hand-wringing and many headlines. But in the months ahead, the new bridge is sure to settle into the city’s fabric, its everyday function, and emerging future.
Guest Author Bio
Ray Straatsma Ray is the principal of RStreets Urban Strategies, where he works on strategic communications, public engagement, and urban and transportation policy development. He is also the President of the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network.
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