Crossing the Blackfriars Bridge by car is becoming more of a reality.
The Civic Works Committee accepted the city’s Blackfriars Bridge Environmental Study at Tuesday night’s meeting. These plans have now been placed on public record for a 30 day review period.
According to the plans, the Bridge would be rehabilitated for one-way (eastbound) traffic use and for two-way cyclist and pedestrian use. Blackfriars Bridge is recognized under the Ontario Heritage Act, and prior to traffic closure in September of 2013, 4500 vehicles crossed the bridge each day.
London’s Division Manager of Transportation, and Planning and Design Doug Macrae presented the city’s plans to Councilors. Macrae believes that the benefits of a balanced approach to Blackfriars is that it maintains and better protects the longevity of the bridge and helps direct commuter traffic, especially in the morning.
“We got 30 years out of the last rehabilitation and we expect to get another 30 out of this one.”
The plans also boast improved pedestrian and cyclist safety with more visible pedestrian crossings to be made, reasonable economics ($4.6 million dollars) that would be similar to rehabilitating the bridge for pedestrians only, and maintained neighbourhood long-term connectivity around the Bridge.
Local Ward 13 Councilor Tanya Park admits that she has come to terms with the Bridge not accommodating traffic both ways in her ward area.
“I was quite articulate on the campaign trails that I thought this needed to be an act of transportation, but I need to compromise on that, and I’ll be very frank about that,” and Park says she is excited for Blackfriars, “I’m looking for the rehabilitation of the bridge, what I thought was very important about any of the recommendations talked about was not getting rid of the bridge and not building a brand new bridge because this is a connection that is loved city wide”.
If fully approved, the rest of 2016 will be spent completing the detailed design of the Bridge, while remaining open to pedestrians and cyclists, 2017 will be the first year of rehabilitation with the bridge being closed to all users, and 2018 would see a potentially limited second year of rehabilitation and hopeful opening to follow.
The cost of renovations to the Bridge is expected to cost about $4.6 million dollars.