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Colourful connectors go up in Calgary and Toronto

Opened on March 24, the Peace Bridge spans the Bow River in Calgary. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava, a Spanish architect.

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The tubular structure stretches 130 metres across the water with only a slight one-per-cent slope. The steel helix supports itself, needing no beams, arches, cables or lower supports other than embankments, hidden in the river banks.

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The Peace Bridge offers separate pathways for cyclists and pedestrians, connecting the neighbourhoods of Hillhurst/Sunnyside with downtown Eau Claire.

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The 85-ton bridge drew its share of criticism because of its $24.5-million price tag, construction delays and procurement process.

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At the opening event, some Calgarians compared the bridge to a Chinese finger trap. 'I love that idea,' Mr. Calatrava's son, Micael, told local media. 'Especially with the Chinese finger traps, some of them have different colours, and this one has a little bit of red and a little bit of white, the white being from the glass.'

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Some pedestrians and cyclists wore red to celebrate the opening of the bridge. 'It’s an indelible and a permanent part of the landscape of our city. It would all do us good to grow to love it,' Mayor Naheed Nenshi said.

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In Toronto, Chilean artist Francisco Gazitua was chosen to design a new pedestrian bridge, named Puente de Luz, or Bridge of Light. It is scheduled to open this fall.

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The bridge spans the busy railway corridor in downtown Toronto connecting the new Concord CityPlace condo development and historic Front Street West.

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One of the major design considerations was making sure the bridge did not obstruct the traffic signals for train drivers. The pouring of the middle column was timed to take advantage of track upgrading.

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The bridge spans 125 metres, with two 60-metre ramps at either end. The bridge will be wrapped with a three-metre-high barrier of wire mesh, to prevent pedestrians from throwing items onto the tracks.

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The yellow colour was chosen so the bridge stands out against a grey background. This colour is often used on exterior surfaces in Finland. Gabriel Leung, of Concord Adex, which is paying for its construction, says the bridge is both functional and poetic.

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