Photo: PCL Construction Management

Top Projects 2015: Elbow River Pedestrian Bridge Replacements

Civil—Under $50 Million (TIE)

Flooding in June 2013 devastated Calgary’s inner city infrastructure along the picturesque Elbow River, making it difficult for residents and commuters to get around on foot.

To get people moving, the City of Calgary needed to act quickly to rebuild three pedestrian bridges wiped out in the flood. The bridges were located at Sandy Beach Park, a major recreation area for Calgary residents, and in the communities of Riverdale and Rideau. A team was quickly put together, and within 18 months the new bridges were in place and open to the public.

“What makes this project unique is how quickly it was completed, the level of quality, and the success of the design-assist delivery,” says Charmaine Buhler, project manager, City of Calgary.

Each new bridge is a 60-metre suspension bridge with 15 four-metre precast concrete deck panels measuring 3.8 metres wide hung directly from fully locked cables. Two eight-metre-high structural steel towers anchored to cast-in-place concrete abutments support the cable structure. The towers are held in place by cast-in-place anchor blocks encasing six 20-metre soil anchors each.

Key architectural components include galvanized handrails with Malaysian hardwood railing, large wood signs with stainless steel lettering, LED lighting and a perforated commemorative panel.

For contractor PCL Construction Management, the goal to have the bridges replaced by the end of 2014 was seen as a symbol of the client’s response to the flood and challenged the existing procurement mode. At the conceptual drawing stage, PCL began a design-assist role on the project. As the design was finalized, the company provided increasingly detailed budgets and procured long-lead items like the suspension cable as early work packages. Once the design was issued for construction, lump sum pricing was provided. This process allowed the project team to provide feedback on the design to improve constructability and schedule.

PCL was also able to advance early site work such as bank armouring and tree removal while the design was still being completed.

The City of Calgary’s primary goal was to have high quality bridges open to the public by the end of the year with minimal disruption to the surrounding communities. PCL not only met the client’s goals but exceeded them, with all three bridges ready to be opened to the public within six months of construction start.

Adding to the challenge, all waste was separated for recycling throughout the project.


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