It’s been eight years since the Traffic Bridge was permanently closed to vehicles and pedestrians, but this week, a new and improved traffic bridge will open to the public.
The design of the bridge is similar to the original, which pleases executives at the Western Development Museum.
Jason B. Wall said he’s always been appreciative of the preservation of history, but thinks we could have held on to the original span longer.
“If you look after these things and you’re constantly maintaining them, they’ll last, maybe not forever, but they’ll last for a very, very, very long time,” Wall said.
The new bridge is noticeably wider.
Wall points out the narrow lanes of the bridge were an issue from 1907 until 2010 when it closed.
“People started complaining ‘oh, it’s a really nice bridge but it’s awfully narrow,'” Wall said. “That’s back in the day when it was just horse and carriages.”
Perhaps a little-known fact: before the Traffic Bridge, the only way to get across the South Saskatchewan River was by train bridge or by ferry.
Jason Wall said that, too, had its problems.
“Legend has it that the ferry never ran when the water was too high, and it never ran when the water was too low, it never ran when it was too windy, or never ran when it wasn’t windy enough.”
And even when all the conditions were favourable for a ferry ride, Wall said you likely had to find the operator who was forced to take another job in between river crossings.
No worries about that today. Not one, but two new river spans open this week in Saskatoon.
Special ceremonies will take place at the Chief Mistawasis Bridge Tuesday morning. They will be followed by an opening at the Traffic Bridge over the noon hour.