Friday, September 3, 2010

Sue the bastards

Emotionally, I vacillate between sadness and anger when reading about the Traffic Bridge and what appears to be its eminent demise. Although I confess to leaning towards preserving heritage buildings and sites, I am not of the ilk that everything ever built should be saved at any cost. But the Traffic Bridge is, or was, an icon in Saskatoon. It represents the birth of our city. So how did we get to this juncture?

The first flags on the bridge came in spring of 2006. At that time the engineering report offered options on what would need to be done to save the old girl, or alternatively, tear it down. As 2006 was an election year and many of today's councillors were still promoting themselves as being fiscally responsible (a trait long since lost - sorry for the digression) the decision was made to do what was necessary to extend the lifespan by 20 years. For many this decision came as a result of this option being cheaper than the tear down costs.

Since that time this bridge has been inspected, studied and discussed to death. As early as this Spring the news reports appeared to imply that a paint job would be the fix, although most reasonable people did not buy into that scenario.

Now Mayor Atch states that the bridge is closed to pedi, bike and vehicle traffic due to its unstable condition, and that it could collapse under its own weight. Interestingly enough you can still paddle under the bridge and become part of the debris if you're passing under at down time.

I am not angry at council for the condition of the bridge. Its lack of maintenance and decay started decades ago. And council has the right to depend on professional reports when making decisions. I will be angry at councillors if they do not call into question the validity of the engineering reports, many done by outside consultants for considerable sums of money, and by professional city employees who are paid decent salaries for their advice. Huge tax dollars have been invested in the Traffic Bridge as a result of those reports, the least of which was the bordello style lights at more than twice the budgeted cost.

Aside from the heritage and financial costs, it concerns me that thousands of people, using various modes of transportation, crossed that bridge daily over the months preceding the closure announcement.

So, if costly decisions were made by council without them knowing the true condition of the bridge, sue the bastards that wrote the reports and recover the costs of the reports together with the dollars invested in a lost cause.

And now my emotional pendulum is swinging back to the sad zone.

Enjoy the last summer long weekend!

1 comment:

  1. Bottom line is that the bridge needs to come down. The city has spent, and committed to spend, too much money moving forward and protecting the heritage value of this bridge is no longer feasible.

    If it had been better maintained over the years we would not be here, but we are and as such must deal with reality and not ideals. It's too bad nobody cared about the old bridge until it was too late, hopefully the structural basis can be protected somehow and transferred to a park or other location for display as a tribute to the city.

    Let's draw up a design for a new one, it's a great opportunity to do something that fits the River Landing and speaks volumes about the new Saskatoon. Incorporate ideas, maybe have a restaurant on the Bridge like other major cities do or perhaps line it with some shops like you see in european cities.

    In any event, no time to listen to the kooks saying repair bridge at any cost. Forget being sad, let's embrace the opportunity to put yet another signature stamp on this great city.


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