Steel tension cables will replace glass panels on Calgary’s Peace Bridge to help reduce the ongoing cost of maintenance due to vandalism.
Earlier this year, dozens of glass panels on the Peace Bridge were vandalized. That prompted a review into what material could be used on the bridge. More than 70 per cent of the glass panels were damaged in a spree last July. The cost to repair would have neared $1 million.
The City of Calgary said they’ve been consulting with the bridge’s original designer – Calatrava Architects and Engineers – along with a local architectural firm on a fix. They said this work will cost roughly the same as the replacement cost for the panels – just over $1 million.
“We want to thank The City and congratulate them for arriving at a solution that respects the architectural language of the Peace Bridge. Again, we are very proud to have realized this beautiful bridge for and with The City of Calgary,” said Spanish-Swiss architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava, in a prepared release.
Vandalism has been a problem for the bridge since it officially opened a little more than 10 years ago. The city has spent more than $500,000 on replacing the glass panels alone.
“We know the Peace Bridge is a popular destination for both Calgarians and visitors, so it was important for us to come up with a plan that allows for both an efficient repair but also respects the iconic design of the bridge,” said Bridge Maintenance Manager Charmaine Buhler.
“The change in materials from glass to steel allows us to ensure the Peace Bridge remains safe, durable and easy to maintain in the years to come.”
Wong preferred glass panels
In July, Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong said he would prefer the glass panels stayed. He was worried it would take away from the artistic significance of the bridge.
At that time, Wong was worried that even switching to a polycarbonate panel it would be prone to scratches and discolouring. Now, the steel tension bands will be put in place.
“The Peace Bridge is more than just a downtown asset – it has become a beloved gathering space and a key piece of Calgary’s cultural fabric,” said Wong.
“I continue to support City Administration’s recommendations to balance cost-effective innovations and sustainable maintenance strategy and will continue to work with Administration to find innovations to ensure that the experience of the bridge and sightlines of the river are not compromised for all ages and abilities and for those walking and wheeling through these new changes.”
Mayor Gondek said seeing the repeated vandalism has been both disheartening and costly.
“I heard from many Calgarians asking for a more practical and permanent solution. Replacing the bottom glass panels with durable tension cables will be more cost-effective, all while maintaining the bridge’s unique design,” the mayor said.
Work is underway on the details of the plan, with construction scheduled for spring 2023. The purchase and fabrication of material will be in North America, the city said.
Public access to the bridge remains open.