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Traffic Bridge Study 

Photo credit Daryl Mitchell

The Traffic Bridge, connecting the Nutana neighbourhood to downtown Saskatoon, was built in 1907 for horses and carriages. Until the unexpected closure of the Bridge on August 24, 2010 in the interest of public safety, it was serving approximately 7,000 vehicles per day, and remained an important and well-used pedestrian and cyclist crossing over the South Saskatchewan River. 

In May 2010, the City of Saskatoon commissioned Stantec Consulting Ltd. to undertake a Traffic Bridge Needs Assessment  Study to look at options for the future of the Bridge and its potential to accommodate a variety of pedestrian/bicycle, transit, vehicle, and community functions.

(Photo credit Daryl Mitchell) 

Traffic Bridge Needs Assessment Study Final Report

Traffic Bridge Needs Assessment Study Final Report to City Council -
Dec 6, 2010
   Attachment 1 - Executive Summary from Stantec Consulting
   Attachment 2 - Results from Public Consultation 1 
   Attachment 3 - Results fromPublic Consultation 2 
   Attachment 4 - Results from Public Consultation 3 
   Attachment 5 - Drawing - Option 5, New Modern Truss Bridge 
   Attachment 6 - Panels for Options from Public Consultation
      -Option 1 
      -Option 4 
      -Option 5                       

Traffic Bridge Needs Assessment Study Final Follow-up Report to City Council -
Dec 20, 2010
   Attachment 1 - Recommended Vertical & Horizontal Clearances 
   Attachment 2 - Operation & Signing of Exclusive-Use Pathways 
   Attachment 3 - Operation & Signing of One-Way Exclusive-Use Bike Lanes 
   Attachment 4 - Operation & Signing of Shared-Use Pathways

Final Report Prepared by Stantec Consulting Ltd.(PDF - very large file)

Public Consultation Comments (PDF - large file) 

City Council, at its meeting on December 6, 2010, approved the recommendation from Administration to replace the existing Traffic Bridge with a modern steel truss bridge through a design-build process. As part of the process, efforts will be made to incorporate elements that are sympathetic to the heritage and architecture of the existing bridge. The new bridge will accommodate emergency vehicles and transit. 

City Council, at its meeting on December 20, 2010, approved the recommendation from Administration that the width of the driving lanes on the new modern steel truss bridge be 3.7 meters, and that a multi-use pathway be on both sides of the bridge.

It is estimated that the construction time will be 18 to 24 months, and that the cost to replace the Traffic Bridge with a modern steel truss bridge will be between $27,000,000 and $34,000,000.

The Traffic Bridge Needs Assessment Study included: 

  • Detailed traffic analysis and structural assessments
  • Development of various concepts to maintain or modify the Bridge usage, including cost estimates and a comparison of the advantages/disadvantages of each concept
  • Public Consultation to ensure the public has an opportunity to express their views and help guide the development of potential alternatives:
    • Open House on June 22 at Nutana Collectiate, as well as an online forum from June 23 through mid-July, to gather public input about the future of the Traffic Bridge: what's important to you, what you value and what your priorities are
    • Second Open House on September 15 at Victoria School for the public to view and provide input on four proposed options. An online forum was also available from September 16 - 30 for people to share their views.
    • Third Open House on October 20 at the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 63, to present the short-listed Traffic Bridge options (below), and provide an opportunity for additional public feedback. Public input was also gathered on an online forum between October 21 and November 1. The same content and opportunity for response was available as at the October 20 open house.
  • A final report with the recommended option(s) for presentation to City Council in November 2010.

Summary of Short-Listed Traffic Bridge Options

  • All options have the capacity to carry vehicular, pedestrian and cycling traffic for the foreseeable future (e.g. 80 years).
  • All options have 3.0 metre pedestrian/cyclist lanes on both sides of the bridge.
  • The Conventionally Designed Structure option and Modern Steel Truss option both have 1.5 metre shoulders on the vehicular lanes, which could be dedicated cycling lanes.
  • All options use the existing piers (upgraded). 


Vehicular Lanes

Bridge Finish

Capital Cost

Construction Time

Annualized Operating Cost

Option 1 -Complete



Black Painted Steel

$24M - $34M

24 – 36 months


Option 4 - Conventionally


3.7m + 1.5m

To be determined

$26M - $35M

18 – 24 months


Option 5 - Modern



Weathering Steel

$25M - $33M

18 – 24 months



$27M - $34M


3.7m + 1.5m

$29M - $37M


Public Open House - October 20

A come-and-go Traffic Bridge Open House was held on Wednesday evening, October 20 at the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 63. Detailed information about the short-listed options for the Bridge was available and the public was invited to review the options and provide their input. Civic staff and the consultant were present to provide information regarding the options and to collect public input. Approximately 150 people attended the open house.

Public input on the short-listed options for the Traffic Bridge was also gathered on an online Traffic Bridge Forum between October 21 and November 1. The same content and opportunity for response was available as at the October 20 open house.

Public Open House - September 15

On Wednesday evening, September 15, an open house was held at Victoria School. Information and the four options (below) for the future of the Traffic Bridge were provided for discussion. A come-and-go format similar to the June 22 open house was used to gather responses to the four options with a series of panels, the survey and the opportunity for comments. Civic staff and the consultant were present to answer questions and gather public input. Approximately 400 people attended the event.




Four Proposed Options

Results of the first round of public consultation for the future of the Traffic Bridge (an open house on June 22 followed by an online forum) revealed that multiple forms of transportation, vehicle, pedestrian and cyclng, should be accomodated. Ten options were developed and included four multi-use options (vehicle, pedestrian and cyclist), five options for pedestrian/cyclist use only, and an option for complete demolition.

The unexpected closure of the Traffic Bridge on August 24, 2010 reinforced the significance and value of the Bridge for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. As a result, the six options that included pedestrian/cyclist use only and complete demolition were removed. The four remaining options for the future of the Traffic Bridge accommodate vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. 

The following are the four options for public input at the September 15 open house and the online forum (through September 30) on the future of the Traffic Bridge:

 Option:  Description:
 1. Complete rehabilitation for vehicle, pedestrian and cyclist use: Maintain the 
bridge in its existing form and function, providing narrow traffic lanes (2.9 metres) but replace the existing separate pedestrian walkway on the west side of the bridge with two standard width walkways (3.0 metres) on both sides. [Concept probable cost: $27 million]
4. Replace with a conventionally designed structure (girder and deck) for 
vehicle, pedestrian and cyclist use
 A new structure providing two standard width traffic lanes (3.7 metres plus 1.4 metre shoulder) and separate 3 metre shared walkways on both sides. Likely a concrete bridge. [Concept probable cost: $26 million]
5. Replace with a modern steel truss or similar form to the existing bridge for vehicle, pedestrian and cyclist use: A new structure providing two non-standard width traffic lanes (3.3 metres), no shoulders and separate 3 metre shared walkways on both sides. [Concept probable cost: $25 million] 
6. Replace with an architecturally significant structure for vehicle, pedestrian
and cyclist use, a modern "signature bridge":
A new design providing two
standard width traffic lanes (3.7 metres plus 1.4 metre shoulder) and 3 metre shared
walkways on both sides. [Concept probable cost: $60 million]

Included in these option estimates is approximately $4 million to refurbish the piers such that their service life would match the chosen option's service life. The piers have been assessed as having up to 20 years of serviceable life under similar loading conditions as today. The estimates do not include costs for Saskatoon Light & Power to deal with the existing 15kV circuit running across the bridge.

Public Open House - June 22

A come-and-go Open House was held on Tuesday, June 22 at Nutana Collegiate, where the public was invited to provide input on the future of the Traffic Bridge. An estimated 250 to 300 people attended this information-only event, with approximately 125 survey and comment sheets being completed. In addition, an online forum was available from June 23 to the end of July in order to solicit a broad range of opinions and to engage as many people as possible. Approximately 420 surveys were completed online.

The consultant (Stantec Consulting Ltd. and Fast Consulting) has summarized the results of this first round of public consultation. The charts in Traffic Bridge Public Consultation Results - July 2010 summarize the feedback.


The Traffic Bridge officially opened on October 10, 1907. As Saskatoon’s first bridge specifically designed for foot and vehicle traffic, it was built to provide a safe and reliable way for vehicles, pedestrians and freight to cross the river. Although it has been known by several names over its long history, it is most correctly called by its original name: the “Traffic Bridge”. 

Saskatoon the City of Bridges (2006 brochure by the City of Saskatoon) 

(Photo credit Daryl Mitchell)

Questions and Answers

Is the Traffic Bridge safe?

On August 24, 2010, the Traffic Bridge was indefinitely closed to vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists after preliminary results from the scheduled comprehensive inspection showed serious corrosion and deterioration of some steel members underneath the deck. 


The last comprehensive inspection of the Traffic Bridge was conducted in 2005 (regular annual inspections have taken place since then), and that inspection resulted in the closure of the Traffic Bridge for approximately one year. As a result, in 2006, the City repaired the most critical elements of the Bridge to allow the Bridge to reopen. However, the corrosion and deterioration continued in other areas of the Bridge which resulted in its current closure.


The repair in 2006 was expected to extend the life of the Bridge. What happened?
In 2006, the City repaired the most critical elements of the Bridge to allow the Bridge to reopen and to be serviceable for up to 20 years. There was a possibility that a future annual inspection may reveal a deficiency which would require immediate closure of the Bridge. The corrosion and deterioration continued in other areas of the Bridge which resulted in its current closure.


Can't we just paint the Traffic Bridge to extend its life?
All steel 1.5 meters above the deck of the Traffic Bridge is in fair condition and could benefit from sandblasting, repair, coating and painting; however the entire bridge deck and the steel immediately above and below the deck is in an advanced state of deterioration. Large sections of the deteriorating steel may require replacement in the next few years; paint alone will not preserve those elements or replace lost material due to corrosion.


Would keeping motor vehicles off of the Bridge and allowing only pedestrians and cyclists extend its life?
No. Decreasing the load limit will not extend the life of the Traffic Bridge as almost 75% of the total load on the Bridge is its own weight. Without future rehabilitation, the Bridge will continue to deteriorate and more of its remaining capacity will be required to support its own weight. 


Can the Bridge be saved?
The concrete river piers are adequate for the current 5 tonne load limit for approximately 20 years or more; however it’s too soon to be sure about the superstructure. We’ll know more after we study the Consultant's report, which will include a structural assessment and the feasibility of completely rehabilitating the existing Traffic Bridge.


What is the environmental impact of completely rehabilitating or removing the superstructure?
The original protective coating on the Bridge’s steel superstructure was lead-based paint. While much of the coating has long been oxidized (i.e. turned to rust), a containment system to collect and dispose of the paint and rust flakes will be required whether the bridge is completely rehabilitated, replaced or demolished.  


The Traffic Bridge has historical significance as our city’s first bridge for use by pedestrians and vehicles, and it is also the site of the province’s only maritime disaster. Will that be recognized?
The City is reviewing the process for having a City-owned property declared a Municipal, Provincial and/or Federal Heritage Site. Also, the consultation process will help us understand community attitudes, values, and the needs to be addressed when potential options for the Traffic Bridge are considered.


What are some options for the Traffic Bridge?

Options for the Bridge will be determined based on public input, traffic analysis and a structural assessment, and could include complete rehabilitation, construction of a new superstructure on the existing concrete piers or construction of a completely new bridge. For example, options may include:

·         Re-use the existing bridge or components of the existing bridge

·         Two-lane or four-lane bridge with wide pedestrian/cyclist paths

·         Transit-only bridge with wide pedestrian/cyclist paths

·         No replacement (i.e. demolition)

·         Pedestrian/cyclist only structure

·         Two-lane bridge with capacity for streetcars, with wide pedestrian/cyclist paths 


What about the lights on the Traffic Bridge?

The lights on the Bridge were installed in 2007. If the existing Traffic Bridge is completely rehabilitated, the lights could be removed and reused.


How many pedestrians use the Traffic Bridge?
On a typical weekday (in March 2010), we counted:

  • 151 pedestrians, cyclists and skateboarders between 7am and 9am
  • 107 pedestrians and cyclists between 11:30am and 13:30pm
  • 184 pedestrians and cyclists between 4 pm and 6 pm

Has the volume of traffic using the bridge changed?
Yes, for instance, the opening of the Senator Sid Buckwold Bridge in 1966 removed almost 7,000 vehicles a day from the Traffic Bridge.

Why start this study now (May 2010)?
The limited service life of the Traffic Bridge means that decisions will need to be made about its future. We need to prepare for those discussions now.

Traffic Bridge Facts

Weight Restriction
- 5 tonnes
Height Restriction - 2.6 metres (8’-6”)
Driving Lanes - 2 narrow driving lanes, 2.9 metres wide/each, no shoulder
Pedestrian Walkway - 1.8 metres wide,  on the westside of the superstructure only
Average Weekday Use - 7,493 vehicles in 2008 (3,472 northbound and 4,021 southbound)

Average Weekend-day Use - 5,444 vehicles in 2008 (2,516 northbound and 2,929 southbound)

Traffic Bridge Inspection Reports

Traffic Bridge Inspection Reports are available for review at Infrastructure Services Department -Reception, 3rd Floor City Hall (222 - 3rd Avenue North, Saskatoon). The links below are to PDFs of the introduction to each report:

Other Links of interest

Drawing of Traffic Bridge truss elements 
Province of Saskatchewan - Statement of Heritage Significance

Photo credit Daryl Mitchell

(Photo credit Daryl Mitchell)

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