So much for the grand opening—the “Bridge of Light” connecting CityPlace and Front Street West is closed.
CityPlace’s new pastel-yellow Puente de Luz pedestrian and cycling bridge had its grand opening last Friday, Oct. 26. Chile’s ambassador to Canada, Roberto Ibarra, was there. So were Cueca dancers. And why not? The bridge was designed by Chilean sculptor Francisco Gazitua; its name, translated, means “Bridge of Light,” and it was, as a press release by CityPlace developers Concord Adex noted, “chosen to signify the link between North and South and the connection between the two countries that came together to build it—Canada and Chile.” The bridge required, the press release continued, ”extreme care and precision…with its design, construction, and installation.”
By the night of its grand opening, though, the City of Toronto had ordered it closed, deeming it unsafe.
Why? The City’s not saying much: Helen Noehammer, the director of development engineering, wrote in an email to The Grid on Tuesday that “the bridge is closed as a result of a number of deficiencies that were identified through an inspection carried out by City staff. City staff are working with Concord Adex and their engineering team to address these deficiencies.”
We asked, several times, for details of what those deficiencies were, and were only told in another email, a day later, that the City was “in the process of scheduling a meeting with Concord Adex and their engineering team for later this week. We will be in a better position to discuss these deficiencies after this meeting as we need input on a number of matters from the bridge-design engineer.”
There’s no scheduled reopening yet. Noehammer wrote in her email that “it is our objective to open the bridge as quickly as possible.”
Concord Adex isn’t saying much, either. The Grid first sought a statement from the developers on Sunday night, after commenters on our infographic about the bridge complained that it was already fenced-off to the public. Three days later, the company issued a brief, emailed one from Gabriel Leung, Concord’s vice president of development. It said only that “although Concord Adex has completed the bridge, the City of Toronto informed us last week that it was still engaged in the final review and approval process. We continue to work closely with the City to ensure that the bridge will re-open as soon as this final approval process is complete. While it is difficult to determine a precise date for the re-opening of the bridge, we are confident that a resolution will be implemented in the near future.”
(The bridge, of course, can’t be both i) completed and ready to re-open, and ii) have deficiencies that need to be addressed before it can be re-opened.)
All we’ve got to go on for now is the word of members of development forum Urban Toronto. One long-time poster, drum118, who said he was on the bridge on opening day, wrote in a thread that night that the issues were with the mesh shroud encircling the bridge—a late addition to the bridge intended to prevent people from jumping or throwing things on to the GO tracks below. ”The bridge is close[d] until 2013 or until agreement is in place to keep part of the bridge open while about 6,000 clamps holding that garbage mesh are replace[d],” he wrote. “The clamps have very rough edges and can be move[d] around.”
Another user, Tuscani01, wrote that the problem was bigger than that. “It will probably reopen shortly, as the issues weren’t major. The mesh issue is minor. The most pressing issue for the [City] inspector was the fact that the expansion joints [the tops of which would be on the walkable surface of the bridge] presented a tripping hazard. [Concord Adex] dealt with a different inspector this time, as the last one had not brought up any of the issues that came up this time. The City needs to get its act together.”
Or maybe Concord Adex does—for now, all we know is that it’s going to be a little while longer before those looking to get into or out of CityPlace on foot or by bike will be easily able to.
We’re still looking into what led the bridge to be ordered closed by the City. Know something? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.