The Saga of a Bridge

History & Plans   Construction 2011   Construction 2012   Construction 2013   Epilogue

2014 construction

14 January:
site inspections using a crane and bucket lift take place

22 January:
Ottawa Citizen: "Company being sued for Airport Parkway bridge did design for Glebe parkade"

21 February:
SEG Management Consultants presents their review of the project; 9 major areas of failures in city management of the project are identified; the city's statement of work provides many details of the construction work that were not previously public. They are released to the public on 25 February

25 February:
CFRA: Report on bungled Airport Parkway bridge released
CBC: Report slams Airport Parkway pedestrian bridge project

26 February:
Ottawa Sun: Airport bridge a mess from day 1 report says
Ottawa Citizen: "Many to blame for Airport Parkway bridge fiasco, report shows"

27 February:
Bridge Design&Engineering: Report sets out failings in Ottawa's Airport Parkway bridge project

28 February:
Ottawa Citizen: "The Airport Parkway bridge fiasco"

4 March:
CBC: Scathing report on Airport Parkway bridge tabled
CFRA: Councillors tackle scathing Airport Parkway bridge report
Ottawa Citizen: The unspoken problem with the bridge: people lied
1310 News: Report says poor management to blame for Airport Parkway Bridge fiasco
Ottawa Citizen: "Airport Parkway bridge fiasco won't get anybody fired - at least not yet"

5 March:
Ottawa Sun: Get to the bottom of this Airport pedestrian bridge mess now
Metro News: Ottawa Airport Parkway bridge doomed from day one, says report

6 March:
The Bulldog: A Bridge Too Lax
Ottawa Citizen: "Unacceptable answers on Parkway bridge"

7 March:
The Bulldog: The Abbott And Costello Bridge
The Bulldog: Are There Other City Building Woes?

13 March:
Ottawa Community News: City staff grilled over Airport Parkway bridge debacle

15 March:
Ottawa Construction News: Airport Parkway Bridge recommendations

18 March:
Toronto Sun: $5 million footbridge delayed

24 March:
the bridge gets a Twitter address: @Airportbridge

27 March:
Ottawa Citizen: "A few tweets short of a span: forlorn bridge gains Twitter following"
Huffington Post: Ottawa's Airport Parkway Bridge Spawns World's Saddest Twitter Account

2 April:
CFRA: Work resumes on Airport Parkway Pedestrian Bridge
Ottawa Sun: 3rd time lucky? Airport Pkwy. bridge work resumes
Ottawa Citizen: "Construction resumes on Airport Parkway bridge"
Ottawa Business Journal: Construction restarts on troubled Airport Parkway bridge

13 April:
David McKie: Airport Parkway Bridge undergoes new design after pricey deficiencies

24 April:

supports for the suspended span are being modified to fit the new steel deck design

2 May:

support modification for the new steel deck continues, the approach span concrete has been cut back to accept a new connection for it; the now useless rod connection assembly at the top of the tower has been removed

8 May:
the schedule for completion is released @Airportbridge: the top cap should be installed late June; the deck should arrive late summer together with the cables

19 May:

all the conifers within the construction fence are dead; given that the earth around them was not disturbed by construction and that those just outside the fence are in perfect condition, it appears they were killed deliberately. Questions from the public are ignored by the city

21 May:

formwork for a full-width support pier for the steel deck is being built; it ties the end supports for the approach span and for the deck together

the supports under the approach spans are being strengthened as well. The question as to whether cracks in the deck are cosmetic or structural has been resolved on the side of caution

2 June:

the platform for the installation of the tower top cap is ready to go, 30 m straight up

3 June:
City Lawsuit vs Genivar June 3
CTV: Airport Parkway Bridge saga continues with lawsuit
Ottawa Sun: No [city] jobs lost in Airport Pkwy. bridge fiasco
CBC: City files $4.6M lawsuit against Airport Parkway bridge designer
CFRA: City files $4.6-million dollar claim over Airport Parkway bridge
Ottawa Citizen: City launches $4.6M lawsuit over Airport Parkway bridge
The Beacon (NL): City sues Airport Parkway bridge designer for $4.6 million
Ottawa Business Journal: City sues Airport Parkway bridge designer for $4.6 million
Sackville (NB) Tribune-Post: City sues Airport Parkway bridge designer for $4.6 million
Metro News: Ottawa suing engineering firm over 'troubled' Airport Parkway bridge design
Prince Albert (SK) Daily Herald: City sues Airport Parkway bridge designer for $4.6 million

4 June:
City Manager Kent Kirkpatrick issues a memo describing the city's action plan in response to the SEG report
Ottawa Sun: Bridge engineers fired for screw-up
1310 News: City sues designer of Airport Pkwy. pedestrian bridge

12 June:
Ottawa Community News: City launches $4.6M lawsuit...

16 June:

work starts to assemble the top cap that will hold the deck support cables

19 June:
Ottawa Sun: More damage in bridge suit
Ottawa Citizen: City seeks additional $1M in lawsuit against bridge contractor

20 June:

the main component of the top cap is being installed; it has provision for 4 cable pairs on the highway side and 3 on the back side, as opposed to the original design for 2 and 1.

4 July:
Ottawa Construction News: Multi-million dollar litigation starts over Aiport Parkway pedestrian cycling bridge

10 July:

the top cap is fully installed - Bray celebrates as usual with their flag

the east support for the steel bridge deck is complete, the west one is being finished off; both are far stronger than the Genivar versions

one of the strengthened approach deck supports

19 July:

a forest of traffic cones is ready to close down the Airport Parkway on Sunday for installation of temporary supports for the new bridge deck

21 July:

this seems to be all that was done during the overnight closure

23 July:

the city releases a drawing of how the new bridge design will look. It's no Jerusalem Chords Bridge, but is looking more like a traditional cable-stayed structure. The rearmost stays will be connected to the deck support structure to pull the tower back, thus reducing stress on the front piles of the support pier, one of many problems Delcan faced with the redesign. However, it appears that there has been no attempt to harmonize its appearance with the existing structure, the edge height is smaller and there's no horizontal mid-line

24 July:
Ottawa Citizen: Airport Parkway pedestrian bridge work finally up to speed

31 July:

landscaping of the west approach and construction of the retaining wall is proceeding during a week of solid rain. This support for the suspended span will be have been designed to handle horizontal movement of the deck with temperature changes, the east one vertical pull from the rearmost cable pair

9 August:

the temporary center support for the suspended span is almost complete; the bridge deck is due to arrive on site next week

12 August:
@Airportbridge reaches 1000 followers
CBC Ottawa: New Sawmill Creek bike path use complicated by entry issues

13 August:
Ottawa Sun: Restrictions on Airport Pkwy. delayed
Ottawa Citizen: Airport Parkway bridge work delayed by rains
Ottawa Citizen: Lonely no more, @airportbridge twitter account surpasses 1,000 followers

17 August:
Ottawa Citizen: Plan detours for Airport Parkway bridge starting Monday
CFRA: Airport Parkway bridge construction leads to closures in off-peak hours this week

18 August:

Photo: @CouncillorMcRae
the rear-most section of the steel bridge deck is installed; each section weighs 40 t
CTV News: Work resumes on Airport Parkway bridge
CBC Ottawa: Airport Parkway closing overnight for pedestrian bridge construction

19 August:

the second part of the deck is installed overnight

the precision construction of the orthotropic deck - it was robot welded in a controlled environment to ensure balanced stresses throughout

20 August:

Photo: @CouncillorMcRae

the railing is indeed going up as in the drawing, rather than with an edge that continues the lines of the approaches. It seems it really is going to look a patch job, for 50 years or more an announcement to all entering our city from the airport that they are now entering "the city that can't build bridges" (Ottawa Citizen 17 October 2013)

the projecting edge strip has an aerodynamic function, to reduce flutter vibration of the deck during high winds. But, it's another lost opportunity to harmonize the deck with the approaches; it could have been extended from approach to approach and painted the same colour as the approach stripes (hint: it still could be if anyone at City Hall cared)

27 August:
the suspension cables and connectors arrive on site

4 September:

the cable wires are being laid out - they're to be assembled into cables on site

5 September:

landscaping of the east side is now under way

10 September:

the wires are being paired into cables and their protective coating stripped back. The short cylindrical assemblies look like internal ring dampers that rely on energy-dissipating neoprene or similar material to damp travelling-wave vibration of the cable. Although used in rotating machinery for many years, their use on linear cables is recent

white tubes that will cover each cable assembly are being assembled; the workers seem to be cutting them at intervals and rejoining them, perhaps to fit connections between tube and wires at intervals that will dampen low-order resonances of the cables. It's usual practice to fill the gap between wires and cover with grout but I didn't see any being used. The tube material is probably visco-elastic HDPE to further dampen cable vibrations. The increase in cable diameter due to the cover results in increased vortex-shedding vibration forces, but the increase in damping provided by such a composite structure can more than compensate (google "Scruton Number")

16 September:

cable installation is starting
OttawaStart: Traffic impacts on Airport Parkway begin Thursday

18 September:

oops: after 7 cables were hung, they're all back on the ground. The steel wires are being shortened a bit; presumably a surveyor made an error at some point. Some internals of the deck end fittings, turnbuckles and sheaths are visible here. The spiral ridges around the white tubes will reduce vibration that can result from interaction between light wind and the shape of rain water wetting the cable

19 September:

2 cables re-installed, 2 others hanging loose; water tanks have been added of weight equal to the planned tuned-mass dampers

23 September:
OttawaStart: Work rescheduled - Traffic impacts on Airport Parkway

26 September:

after an all-night session with the parkway blocked, only 1 more cable installed, 1 more hanging loose, 8 still on the ground

2 October:

after a week presumably filled with discussions concerning a problem, a busy day with all the rear cables hung. A lightning rod has been attached to the top cap

8 October:
almost no one around but a few landscapers, nothing visible done on the bridge itself since 2 October

9 October:

under a 4C drizzle, work has resumed on the 3 cables still on the ground; this is the end without turnbuckles that will be attached to the tower

10 October:

after an overnight session, all the cables are hung; 4 still need installing to the deck. The black lumps on the cables cover what appear to be internal ring dampers (10 September photo above)

11 October:

after another overnight session, all cables are installed

21 October:
very slow work on the railings by subcontractor Fox Constructors, apparently nothing else done since 11 October

22 October:

the center support is out, the bridge is now supported entirely by the cables

25 October:
Winnipeg Sun: Airport Parkway Bridge back on track

29 October:
the water tanks and central scaffolding are gone, the deck is being pressure washed and site cleanup is beginning; there's still work to be done on the railings, especially where they don't quite join those of the approaches

30 October:

impediments to traffic are removed overnight, but myriads of orange cones here and at parkway entrances at Brookfield, Walkley & Hunt Club still have to be cleaned up

1 November:

Photo: @CouncillorMcRae
the pathway under the bridge is ready for use again after four years of being blocked

4 November:

Photo: @CouncillorMcRae
pathway lighting hidden in the railings is operational; curiously the electrical contractors for them travel in OCTranspo repair vans

5 November:

cutouts are being done on the edge strip to accommodate tuned-mass dampers

7 November:

this is one of a pair of dampers. Here's how I think they work: the entire olive assembly slides horizontally in and out at a frequency determined by springs and dampers hidden within the boxes; everything except the boxes slides up and down at a frequency determined by the visible leaf springs and diagonal dashpots. The horizontal frequency should be about 1 Hz, the vertical 2 Hz, to match the excitation of people walking (google "wobbly bridge"). It's strange that they're mounted on the outside of the deck, open to freezing rain and snow that would jam them, instead of under it where they'd be protected

12 November:

paving is done, fences are coming down, and site cleaning is in full swing

13 November:
the forests of orange cones used to block the parkway are gone

14 November:

more fences are down, a bobcat is levelling the ground ready for grass

15 November:

these are retro-reflectors; there are 13 on the west side of the tower all aimed at the center of the deck span. They'll be used to measure changes in the position of the tower and deck with time

the wiring to the tower lights under the deck must have been forgotten during construction; another lashup to look at for years to come. The vertical wire grounds the structure as part of lightning protection; despite that there's a warning sign on the approaches that the city dreams will ward off lawsuits. Fencing has been re-erected around the tower and east end of the bridge

20 November:

the first workmen visible at the site since 14 November: a Bray guy (yellow) is pointing out defects in the railing to the railing contractor (orange)
CTV: Airport Parkway Pedestrian Bridge set to open
Canoe News: Airport Parkway bridge to open -FINALLY!
Ottawa Citizen: At last! Airport Parkway footbridge set to open
1310 News: Botched Airport Parkway Bridge finally set to open
CBC: Airport Parkway pedestrian bridge to open Saturday, Nov. 29
CFRA: Airport Parkway Pedestrian Bridge will finally open November 29th
Ottawa Sun: Late, over-budget Airport Pkwy. bridge will finally open this month

22 November:
Ottawa Sun: Airport Parkway bridge nothing to celebrate

26 November:

most bicycles are made of metal, so can be counted by sensors on the approaches
Ottawa Community News: Airport Parkway bridge set to open with community procession

29 November


police tape for Ottawa's 6th homicide of the year, and fences, were removed in the nick of time for people lined up for the official opening. There were free hot drinks at the other end but the lineup was so long, ca. 400 people plus reps of every news org in town, most gave up (including me), given the chilly wind and the exposure to it on the bridge

the street lights overwhelm the bridge lighting - maybe they could be replaced by more directional LEDs here to enhance the bridge appearance. Compare the splat of light from the mercury lamps (left to center) to the precision light delivery of the LED path lights (right)
Ottawa Sun: Airport Pkwy. bridge finally opens
CFRA: Airport Parkway Pedestrian Bridge opens for walkers
CBC: Airport Parkway pedestrian bridge opens after several delays
Ottawa Citizen: At long last, after all the turmoil, the Airport Parkway pedestrian bridge officially opens

1 December:

the community association receives several reports of women who have felt unsafe with someone standing near the narrow underpass to the transit station; the red arrow points to the only surveillance camera for the area, the hooded man is out of sight of it
Ottawa Community News: Hunt Club family walks across new bridge to honour loved one

4 December:
the December 2014 issue of Hunt Club: My Community summarizes the history of the bridge
Ottawa Sun: Bridge designer slams city

6 December:
WSP Canada Statement of Defense
CBC:Airport Parkway bridge lawsuit: WSP Canada files statement of defence

19 December:

as usual, pedestrians eschew designers' wide sweeping paved curves in favour of a direct route

Epilogue