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(My  personal description of some steps involved in constructing the  first pedestrian bridge over highway 401)

As a background to this local pedestrian bridge page, follow this link to view my photo collection of pedestrian - cycle bridges.
In no small way, a North Dakota bridge design convinced me that if the political will was present, then pedestrian and cyclist needs could be met. If such a state with such a small population could create such functional facilities, then why not here in Cambridge?

The planning process for the new highway 401 pedestrian bridge stretched over many years.  For those of you who understand municipal government, consider the task of steering a project through committees representing 3 municipal Councils  and a provincial transportation ministry. But after our work with the Trans Canada Trail Relay 2000, we were absolutely convinced a ped bridge was necessary.
Then in the spring of 2005, the bridge design was labelled  a butt-ugly structure.  A Regional Councillor stated that that " a banner could be hung to alert passing drivers to the province of Ontario's largest chicken coop." (The Record, Jan. 20, 2005)  Highway 401 is the most important and busiest highway in Canada. A Ministry of Transportation official  stated that 50,000 vehicles per day will pass under the bridge, thus the structure must be enclosed.

The budget for the project was set at $1,300,000: Cambridge, Kitchener and the Region sharing the cost. So in fact, this was never a Regional project. In fact, the Region clearly rejected a request to make the bridge their financial responsibility. So I have trouble understanding why negative comments were fed to the newspaper about the project. After years of lobbying, my attitude was just build the damn bridge, and deal with fiscal reality! Cambridge Trails  stripped its budget for 3 years to supply the Cambridge share for this project. Sure, a we would like 'pretty', but we want safety for the cheapest price.

In late May 2005 the Region of Waterloo sponsored a 'design charette'  "to solicit ideas  from the participants regarding aesthetic enhancements to the bridge enclosure." In simply terms the charette was held to remedy the chicken coop design, although the funding designated to the enclosure remained fixed at about $180,000. Hard to not imagine a cost increase with the result that an enhanced design would not fit within  the original budget limits! But, politics is planning and planning is politics.

Sept. 27, 2005  The proposed bridge as shown below left has now been tendered and the project cost obviously increased.  When the butt-ugly problem erupted, I predicted cost increases. And the "aesthetically pleasing enclosure" helped to push the project cost  $585,000 over budget. It amazed me that experts would alter a simple and functional design with add-ons and not assume that the cost would  increase. Talk about an 'ivory tower' approach.  But, then I am not an expert. This aesthetic additions clearly contributed to project delays.

     proposed bridge illustration (below left)                                                   Nov. 1/06 photo of bridge construction

artists drawing of proposed pedestrian bridge over 401    401 pedestrian bridge construction project

Photo on right was taken on Nov. 3/06 and shows progress of the bridge construction. This is a view from the Cambridge side of 401 looking northwards to Kitchener. Centre support is up, retaining wall on north side is complete and working on south side wall.
 GPS location:              N43 23.521   W80 23.382
October 2006  We expected an early completion date of October 2006 but was delayed until mid 2007!    No crossing until 2007 thanks in large measure to design issues.

YAHOO!!!  The first two beams being installed early in the morning on November 23, 2006.
This view is  north across highway 401 towards Kitchener. Later that night, the final two beams were placed by the crane.


Well, it  happened again .... the pedestrian bridge opening was delayed from September until October 14 2007 ... thus it will not be open for summer use, despite earlier statements. The delay is likely another result of Regional Council's decision to design and build a pedestrian bridge with aesthetic enhancements to the bridge enclosure . Not only has this "pretty" bridge cost $450,000 over the original budge, the opening has been delayed a year.. The above diagram (right)  outlines what pedestrians and cyclists will experience .... a cage-like tunnel of metal support tubes and beams. Lovely, just lovely. Sure hope that the highway users enjoy their aesthetic experience!

   June 11/07 photo of 401 ped bridge construction

                             above : June 11/07 our  401 ped bridge

On Friday August 10/07 the first four supports of the enhanced bridge canopy were put in place. 

and finally  a 6+ year dream comes true. The official bridge opening on October 21, 2007.


We also have a new Trans Canada Trail trailhead featuring maps, benches and a parking lot -located at the newly constructed Blair Rd./Fountain Street traffic circle.      N43 23.168     W80 23.382      LOOK FOR NEW map signage ...... blue tube frame
To reach the new ped bridge, proceed north along Morningside Drive for about .8 km.


But remember, this is the first pedestrian/cycle bridged constructed over highway 401. but it should not be the last. Cambridge desperately needs another ped bridge just east of highway 24 .... to reduce the problems created by the poorly designed Franklin Road bridge