Construction is scheduled for completion this fall on the Flora Footbridge, an architecturally inspired arched bridge over the Rideau Canal in midtown Ottawa.
The five-metre-wide-by-123-metre-long linear multi-use pedestrian and cyclist bridge will be supported on V columns on two new piers in the canal.
The eastern access will feature a switchback ramp and staircase, while the western access will be a curved, earth-fill ramp with an asphalt pathway.
An existing lily pond at the west end of the bridge will be enhanced and realigned with the new ramp. The existing pathway will be moved closer to the canal.
The project also includes an elliptically-shaped lookout area at the west abutment, structure illumination and the relocation of an existing watermain under the canal.
The project team includes construction company Pomerleau and the prime consultant is WSP. The sub-consultant architect is DTAH.
The total budget is $21 million.
Funding is being provided by both the federal, provincial and municipal governments.
From a design perspective, the objective was to create a bridge “which was slender and fitting to the local surroundings,” said Carina Duclos, manager of design and construction at the City of Ottawa.
This resulted in designing the two supports in the canal which are V-shaped, “allowing for a shallow 1.1-metre-deep girder.”
Given that the surrounding soils in the area have poor “bearing” capacities, Duclos said the bridge is founded on 30-metre H piles driven to bedrock.
Duclos said there is also limited space on the east side for the bridge’s landing area.
This resulted in designing the switchback, accessible ramp at the signalized intersection of Clegg Street and Colonel By Drive.
Construction got underway in mid-September 2017 on the bridge’s west side and a month later on the east side.
Pier work has been completed and the concrete bridge deck installed.
Steel girders and bridge railings have been manufactured and installed by G&P Welding of North Bay, Ont. Painting of the steel girders has been completed.
Installation of railings on the main bridge is currently underway.
In terms of construction challenges, Duclos noted that the site is located in a high-traffic area with vehicular, cycling and pedestrian traffic.
“Delivering and removing materials in this area have presented some challenges,” she said. “This was especially true for the long, steel bridge girders.”
As well, the Rideau Canal is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This required obtaining appropriate permits and co-ordinating construction activities with Parks Canada, Duclos said.
Ottawa City Council voted in July 2018 to name the Fifth Avenue and Clegg Street crossing after the late Flora MacDonald, Canada’s first female foreign minister.