Preserving an Icon: City Announces full deck replacement for Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge

The City of Fredericton has announced plans to move forward with the deck replacement for the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge. The work will preserve the cherished city icon for generations to come.

Work on the 3.9 million dollar project will begin in September after the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival and last for approximately four months during which the bridge will be closed. Crews will complete the work using a new modular prefabricated deck substructure system as opposed to conventional construction methods and materials, reducing work time by half.

When the job is done, residents and visitors will be able to enjoy long, undisturbed use with only minor maintenance requirements for the next 75 years or more. The stronger structure is designed to withstand the wear and tear caused by more than 600,000 pedestrian crossings every year.

“The Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge is a treasured city icon, and represents a critical part of both our recreation amenities and our Active Transportation system,” said Coun. Kevin Darrah, Chair of the City’s Transportation Committee.  “We recognize its importance as a key link in the city’s trail system, and a major commuting route for many residents. We will be communicating with bridge users before the start of the construction project, and continuing to update as the project moves along,

Regular transit routes take riders from Union Street next to the walking bridge to the downtown and back every 30 minutes during morning and evening commute periods.

Local engineering firm HILCON Limited has completed the plans for the walking bridge upgrades. HILCON has extensive experience in the design, rehabilitation and construction of bridges, and has specialized expertise in the conversion of railway bridges for pedestrian use.

Work will focus on replacing the decking that is built on the original railway ties. The innovative design introduces a pre-fabricated concrete modular deck sub-structure that will replace the existing railway ties and stringers ensuring residents can use the bridge for many years to come.   Once the precast deck sub-structure is in place, pre-manufactured railings, and wooden decking sections will be placed, preserving the look of the iconic landmark.

“This design represents a long-term vision to preserve the bridge’s unrestricted use and enjoyment by local commuters, weekend users, and visitors to the city. This project brings together long term planning and progressive engineering in order to preserve a City treasure for the long haul,” said Sean Lee, Assistant Director, Engineering & Operations. “This work is planned for the fall as the number of daily users begins to drop.   The innovative design and durable pre-manufactured materials will result high quality work being completed much faster than typical bridge construction and will result in minimal shutdowns in the future.”

“Maintaining the iconic look and feel of the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge was a critical factor in the design process,” added Coun. Darrah.  “City staff and the project engineers at HILCON Limited have done an excellent job at preserving the look of the bridge Frederictonians know so well, while safely addressing its future needs.  We’re thrilled with the final design and look forward to the completed work.”

Funding for the project comes through the New Building Canada Fund - Small Communities Fund, awarded in 2017, and is an equal parts shared agreement between the Government of Canada, the Province of New Brunswick and the City of Fredericton.

For more information on the Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge visit the city’s website at www.fredericton.ca and search ‘Bill Thorpe Walking Bridge’.  For more information on the city’s extensive trail system visit the city’s website at www.fredericton.ca/trails