CALGARY -- It’s not on schedule and it’s not on budget, but the City of Calgary says it is doing everything it can to mitigate construction concerns for the new Ninth Avenue S.E. bridge into Inglewood, just east of the downtown core. 

Work to replace the old structure, which was in use for more than 100 years, was originally scheduled to be finished at the end of 2020, but issues with the steel supply are contributing to the delay after a subcontractor went out of business. 

 “We are experiencing another delay with our steel supply,” said project manager Evan Fer.

“We do have some steel here on site that was delivered in the fall and installed and we’re currently waiting for the next batch of steel to continue the installation here on site.”

Fer says the delays mean the bridge will exceed its approved $23M budget. 

Traffic could be allowed to use the bridge by the end of the year, but it will take at least until next spring to remove a nearby temporary bridge and finish additional landscaping. 

A new completion date is projected for sometime in June 2022. 

RESIDENTS EXPRESS ACCESSIBILITY CONCERNS

As construction continues on the Ninth Avenue S.E. bridge, area residents are growing frustrated as pedestrian detours remain in place, adding extra time to their commute.

Erin Joslin, VP external for the Ramsay Community Association, says one of the biggest concerns for her neighbourhood is the loss of a key pathway at Eighth Street S.E. that connects directly to Inglewood.

“We literally have no connection to Inglewood, like, we can see it right behind us, but we cannot get there unless we do a significant detour which in a car is one thing, but it’s different when you’re a pedestrian on foot and you get stuck in a dead-end,” Joslin said.

“It would really suck to have another summer where we can’t easily get over to Inglewood, there’s so much great stuff over there but we’re stuck on the other side of the tracks.”

Meanwhile, other cyclists in the area like Mike Bruni are also expressing concerns as their traditional routes continue to be interrupted.

“We were coming through Stampede Park and when we turn into Inglewood, I would say it takes us another 10 to 15 minutes every time now,” Bruni said.

“It makes it a little more difficult as a biker to try and get into Inglewood from Ninth Avenue. I’m hoping it’s going to be fixed up soon because that will make our trips that much easier and that much more enjoyable.”

People living in Inglewood, like Patricia Tuckey, agree that the City of Calgary needs to provide better access for pedestrians to enter and exit her neighbourhood.

You used to be able to walk straight downtown or bike straight downtown and it’s not that I don’t love the river path, but the detours take time and it’s just not very convenient,” she said.

“There’s no sidewalk so if they had put some kind of walkway on the sides of the tracks while they’re doing the bridge construction, it wouldn’t bother me so much that it’s still delayed.”

CITY WORKING TO ADDRESS PATHWAY CLOSURE FRUSTRATIONS

City of Calgary officials say they are aware of accessibility concerns in the area as Ninth Avenue S.E. bridge construction continues and they thank Calgarians for their patience.

“We are looking to reopen the river pathways as soon as we can but the west river pathway will have to remain closed until we remove the temporary bridge,” said Fer.

“We understand the challenges with moving around the 8th street closure and the bridge construction so it’s something we are thinking of and looking to re-open that river pathway.

The city says about 3,000 to 4,000 pedestrians and cyclists travel near the Inglewood Bridge in an east-west direction every single day, while about 20,000 cars use the temporary bridge daily.

Fer says crews are working hard to get the project done as quickly as possible as it will have a beneficial impact to all Calgarians in the long-term. 

“This isn’t just a bridge replacement, this is a project that’s going to benefit you whether you use transit, whether you cycle or walk in the area. It’s really about giving Calgarians more choices and mobility.