CityPlace pedestrian bridge finally set to open
The Puente de Luz (Bridge of Light) is finally set to open, giving CityPlace residents traveling on foot or by bike a welcome escape route to the city at large. Spanning 125 metres over the busy rail corridor to the west of Union Station, the north end of the bridge terminates at the foot of Portland Street, just a short walk from retail and restaurant rich King West. In the absence of the bridge, CityPlace residents would have to exit via Fort York Boulevard, head north on Spadina and then double back on Front to arrive at the same destination.
So this is a crucial link and timesaver for the 13,000+ residents of the condo-heavy neighbourhood, but it's also an artistic addition to the downtown core. Designed by Chilean sculptor Francisco Gazitua and built in collaboration with engineers Peter Sheffield and the MMM Group, the bright yellow bridge might not be to everyone's taste, but it's certainly more than merely functional. I'd disagree with Concord Adex's description of the bridge as the "largest public art installation in Canada," but after having a close look at it yesterday, there's an elegance to the structure that I hadn't noticed during the construction period.
Although a relatively modest project in the grand scheme of things, the location of the bridge posed numerous challenges during its assembly. The design had to pass through a number of approvals from Metrolinx — operator of the rail corridor over which the bridge passes — so as to ensure the safe passage of trains below. The installation of the middle column was also something of a feat, given that construction was only permitted during a brief window when Metrolinx was engaged in track upgrades. Had the bridge work not been completed then, the project wouldn't be ready to open later today.
- The bridge is 5metres wide and 125 metres long connecting Iceboat Terrace to Portland and Front streets.
- The bridge weighs 600,000 lbs.
- The name Puente de Luz is meant to signify the link between North and South and the connection between Canada and Chile, the latter being the home of designer Francisco Gazitua.
- The bridge's yellow paint job "was chosen to stand out against the grey background of the surrounding area."
- Construction timeline: The design was developed over 3 years, starting in 2009. The steel detailing and off-site manufacturing began in January 2011. On site assembly began in the spring/summer of 2011.
Photos by the author