Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Bridges of the East Village

Citizen Jake Blumes (Twitter @JakeBlumes) asked: "Do you know the status of the proposed bridge over the Elbow connecting the EV and Inglewood? I thought it was a great idea."

We looked into it and to be honest we're getting some mixed signals. Let me explain.
The proposed new East Village - Inglewood Bridge
Situation Background:
Current pathway on the Inglewood side of the Elbow River

The City of Calgary has a master plan to bolster the existing bikepaths and develop a bicycle transit network as part of its "let's build up and not out" planning strategy. They want to encourage people to drive bikes to work instead of cars. Part of this strategy includes building a bridge at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers to connect the East Village pathway with the Inglewood pathway and create a high volume bike route through to downtown. Said high volume bike route would then allow the City to promote various locations in east Inglewood as "Park and Bike" parking lots.

Redevelopments of the pathway are coming together
The City is also developing the riverbank along the perimiter of the new Rivers District via the River Walk Project. The redevelopment includes the west side of the Elbow River, right at the confluence, right where the new bikepath bridge would lie. As construction companies have already set up shop at the site and have called in the bridge building machinery for a different bridge project in the area it would only make sense to have them put this bridge in while they're at it. It just so happens that the City has a spare bridge in storage just waiting to be repurposed. This makes sense.

Construction plan for the new St. Patrick's Island bridge

Local Lighting Company Nemalux say they lost from unfair
contracting practices 
Unfortunately the powers that be had to shoulder a whole bunch of backlash when they officially announced the new bridge. This is due to a certain Latticed Red Albatros that we're all too familiar with. Adding fuel to the fire is a new allegation of unfair contracting practices on a different bridge project by a local Calgary business. Now it seems that nobody at City Hall wants their name in the same sentence as the word "bridge" and the whole matter of the EV/Inglewood Bridge has been quietly brushed under the rug.
The construction of the new St. Patrick's Island bridge
has been slow going for a while
So what is going on?
Pathway construction is underway with no sign of a bridge

Not much, that's what. Construction on the west side of the Elbow, the Riverwalk, is well underway. Ground has been leveled. Cement has been poured. Things are taking shape but there's no sign of a bridge or even a path to where the bridge may eventually be built. On the other bank of the river there's no construction activity at all. It would seem that any plan for a pedestrian bridge to link the Inglewood bikepath with that of the East Village has been wiped of the map so to speak. Ironically though the city has just installed a bunch of new tourist Maps and Information Kiosks around downtown and these actually have the new bridge drawn into their bikepath maps.
The newly installed bikepath maps include the proposed pedestrian bridge

Planned Pedestrian bridge is visible in the new map

A clear indication to the new bridge

Calgary Sun; Calgary Company miffed by... project sunb

CMLC; St. Patrick's Island

CMLC; RiverWalk

CBC; Calgary Peace Bridge, controversial

CBC; New Bridge Idea

City of Calgary; Pedestrian Bridges

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