To thousands of people driving on the old Walterdale Bridge past its replacement’s construction site, what they manage to glimpse is merely a complex construction project in progress.
And to very many of them, a bridge is a bridge is a bridge, however beautifully it may have been designed, right?
But to Ryan Teplitsky, the City’s construction project manager on the $155 million project, the new Walterdale Bridge is way more than just a bridge.
For him it’s personal. It’s exhilarating. It’s symbolic. And short of his wife and two kids, it’s the luckiest thing that ever happened to him.
“I knew this project was on the way, and I got my request in really early. I couldn’t believe my luck when I was appointed construction project manager.”
Ryan’s career has seen some big responsibilities – he was construction project manager on the huge Gateway Boulevard-23rd Avenue interchange project – but this one takes the cake.
“This is an iconic, signature project. When it’s finished, it’ll be one of the images people think of when they hear the word ‘Edmonton’. Along with City Hall, and what’s happening downtown, this bridge is really going to ‘up’ our reputation, and that’s only part of the reason I’m excited to work on it,” says Ryan.
Though they’re not common in Alberta, inclined arch bridges are built in many countries. What makes the Walterdale Bridge unique in the world is the wide, cantilevered shared-use pathway that will span the river in a long, sweeping curve alongside the bridge’s east side.
“It rests on supports extending from the bridge deck, and its weight will be partially borne by cables from the arches high above it.
“The pathway is really wide, varying between 4.2 meters and 9 meters wide. It will be a major connection between landscaped public parks and pathways on either side of the river,” he says. The pathway should be in use in 2017.
“Once the bridge is in use by traffic in the fall of 2016, and fully landscaped on both sides in 2017, it’s going to be an amazingly beautiful addition to our city.”
● The arches will be lifted in stages, ultimately reaching the height of the High Level Bridge (about 54 meters) when they reach the full 230-meter span across the river. The first lift happened in mid-January. One more lift will follow.
● The 950-ton centre portion of the arches (now resting between earth fill berms on both sides of the river) was built on the surprisingly large south side compound, slid on rails, transferred onto two steel barges in the river, then floated upstream and lowered onto temporary foundations at the edge of the berms. This section will be lifted and bolted to further arch sections in January, then that larger arch will be lifted yet again in March and welded to base lengths of arch attached to concrete thrust blocks.
● The concrete thrust block foundations to which the base plates will be bolted took more than a year and a half to build. They’re 20 meters deep, 10 meters square; extending below them are 44 steel micro piles that have been secured an additional 18 meters into the bedrock below. Turned upside down, one micro pile alone could support the weight of five loaded concrete trucks.
● The steel base plates of the arch are 3.4 meters square, and the steel is 10 cm thick.
● The old Walterdale bridge will be removed in 2017.