Bridge crews are getting down to the nitty gritty of the Columbia River Skywalk.
Yes, it’s going to be an attractive feature as well as a new avenue to cross the water by foot. But the whole reason for the walking bridge is to disguise the new sewer line, water line and other utilities that will extend shore to shore on the south end of town.
Workers began installing the new water pipe early this week, sewer line installation is expected to begin by Friday.
Outwardly, both lines appear to be the same. The flexible HDPE (high density polyethylene)pipe is being used for both utilities, water on the north side and sewer on the south side, the only difference is the thickness of the walls.
Weight distribution is the reason for using similar pipe, explains city engineer Warren Proulx.
“What happened is there was going to be different types of pipe but because we had to balance the bridge, the two pipes are actually identical,” he said. “The outside diameter is identical but the water line is a double-wall pipe for insulation purposes, so the water doesn’t freeze in the winter time.”
Another phase currently underway is the installation of conduit for the structure’s overhead lights.
Evenly spaced LED lamp standards will flood the walkway from East Trail to west, says Proulx.
“If you look on the bridge right now, there’s wooden handrail going all the way across,” he explained. “That’s for the electrical, we have to put electrical lines down the one side of the bridge.”
The pedestrian lighting will be tied into the city’s “ROAM” system, meaning the LEDs will be at their brightest during peak hours and dim during the night.
“It’s to conserve power,” Proulx noted. “Right now, our street lights dim down (up to) 50 per cent of power when nobody is on the street, there’s no reason to waste power – so the bridge lights will be tied into that street lighting system.”
Another leg of work, re-configuring and repaving McQuarrie Street and Columbia Avenue, is slated for the next four weeks.
“That’s all part of the approaches to the bridge and an interesting part of the project is to finish off that side,” said Proux.”We still have some curb and gutter to put in, but (those streets) will be restored by the end of September.”
So far, other than the initial two week delay related to material availability, the Skywalk remains on schedule for completion in November.
Within a month, the composite deck panels will be snapped into place and give the walkway a finished sidewalk look.
“A lot of things are happening, construction guys will be able to walk across the deck in a month or so,” says Proulx. “All we really have is another three months to get things done and tidied up – still lots of work and November is not far away.”