'Skipping Stone' Bridge Across The Bow Opens To Calgarians

    · 5 min read

    New pedestrian connector opens today after five years of planning and construction

    When Mother Nature ravaged our city in June 2013, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) could do little but watch from high ground as progress on the new St. Patrick’s Bridge came to a halt.

    After four years of focused planning and construction, the organization responsible for delivering an ambitious infrastructure program in the east end of Calgary’s core was just three months away from opening St. Patrick’s Bridge – a new pedestrian connector across the Bow River from East Village to St. Patrick’s Island and Bridgeland. Then came the floodwaters, which tore away the bridge deck and added one more year to the construction schedule.

    “A temporary setback,” says Michael Brown, President & CEO, CMLC. “Like the rest of this great city, CMLC got right back to work as soon as the floodwaters receded. We had come too far with our master plan vision for East Village to let a little water dampen our enthusiasm!”

    The master plan for East Village details infrastructure programs throughout the community, which reconnect it with its surrounding neighbours. “East Village was an island in and of itself; cut off in every direction from surrounding communities. Now, we are connected on our South border by the 4th Street Underpass; on our East border by the Elbow River Traverse and RiverWalk; on our western edge, we will connect through the New Central Library and today, we make the connections final by adding our North connector – St. Patrick’s Bridge,” noted Brown.

    “I am thrilled to be here today as we connect neighbours and neighbourhoods along the Bow River with the new St. Patrick’s Bridge,” says Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “Great cities need smart, well-designed transportation infrastructure to keep their citizens on the move and to connect them with one another.”

    To celebrate the completion of the pedestrian bridge, His Worship led a grand procession of young students, community and civic leaders, and construction personnel across St. Patrick’s Bridge – a symbolic expression of the new connection between East Village and downtown Calgary with Bridgeland, Sunnyside and other communities north of the river. Elder Clarence Wolf Leg of the Blackfoot Nation, performed a tobacco smudge blessing and prayer to purify and to bless Mother Earth.

    Dubbed “the skipping stone bridge,” the graceful design of the connector – reminiscent of a stone skipping across the Bow – is the brainchild of RFR, an architectural design firm based in Paris, France. In 2009, CMLC conducted an international design competition that netted 33 responses. CMLC then engaged more than 2,000 Calgarians, and their collective input guided selection of the final design.

    Jean Francois Blassel, chief architect with RFR group, was elated by Calgarians’ input into the design of the bridge. “This is a functional bridge first and foremost. For thousands of Calgarians who commute into downtown Calgary every day, this crossing is a priority. Its simple design, wide deck, seating areas and inviting aesthetics make it both a path and a place – a highly functional pedestrian connector and a ‘balcony’ from which you can observe St. Patrick’s Island, the city and the river.”

    “We were very impressed with the sensibility, aesthetics and thematic approach taken by RFR,” notes Lyle Edwards, Board Chair, CMLC. “The new St. Patrick’s Bridge strikes a perfect balance of function and form.”

    “I’d also like to acknowledge Stantec and Graham Construction – two project team members that were pivotal in the successful completion of the bridge.”

    Together, St. Patrick’s Bridge and the restoration of St. Patrick’s Island Park comprise a $45 million infrastructure program being delivered by CMLC as part of the organization’s infrastructure improvement schedule for the Rivers District of Calgary. St. Patrick’s Island Park is scheduled to open to the public in the summer of 2015. The bridge landing onto the island will be complete at that time.

    Imagined as a mixed-use, amenity-rich master-planned neighbourhood in the downtown core, East Village will be home to more than 11,000 residents upon completion in 2027. With local amenities like RiverWalk,
    St. Patrick’s Island Park, the New Central Library, National Music Centre and an urban shopping centre,
    East Village has become a highly desirable neighbourhood in Calgary’s downtown core.

    St. Patrick’s Bridge by the numbers:

    365 Weight of steel, in tons
    182 Length, in metres
    3,800 Distance arches were trucked from the manufacturer in
    03 Pairs of arches (two above deck, one below)
    10.7 Maximum width of bridge deck (metres)
    7.3 Minimum width of bridge deck (metres)
    2000 Number of Calgarians engaged in the bridge design discussion

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