Walterdale Bridge

A bridge that connects the city, nature, and people.

Bridges & Urban Infrastructure

The new Walterdale Bridge creates a striking new entrance into Downtown Edmonton and a unique gathering place in the heart of North America’s largest urban parkland. The bridge is a gracious, single span, twin through-arch steel structure, spanning 206 metres from bank to bank across the North Saskatchewan River. It carries three lanes of northbound vehicle traffic, a sidewalk to the west of the roadway, and a separated shared-use path for pedestrians and cyclists to the east. The project also included the realignment of two major roadways to connect to the new river bridge alignment. The result is a signature structure that blends with its natural setting, creates a landmark gateway to the city, and refreshed the postcard view of the whole city.

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Location
Edmonton, AB
Client
City of Edmonton
Completion
2018
Collaborators

Thurber Engineering
ISL Engineering
Al-Terra Engineering
COWI
HLB Lighting Design
Spencer Environmental Services

DIALOG Services

Architecture
Electrical Engineering
Landscape Architecture
Planning & Urban Design
Structural Engineering

Rebranding the city

The completed bridge is more than just a structure—it breathes new life into the City’s identity and is a point of pride for decades to come.

Shared Use Path

The experience for traffic and pedestrians is distinct and enjoyable in its own way. The shared use path shares an arch for support, but is separated from traffic for a unique crossing experience.

Shared Use Path

The bench along the west side has a high back that blocks prevailing winds and traffic noise. At each end, the path is about twice as wide as it is in the middle.

Arch Bridge

The bridge arches span 206m (that’s two football playing fields!) and are 56m tall. They are made of 42 steel segments, using 1,500 bolts at each connection. The heaviest arch segment is 125 tonnes.

Bridge Deck

The bridge deck, supported by 32 hangers, is a steel framework supporting a cast-in-place concrete deck covered with asphalt. It used 65 tonnes of reinforcing steel and 1,600 cubic metres of concrete.

Bridge Deck

It carries three lanes of north-bound traffic, but is designed to easily accommodate four lanes in the future, if needed.

River Valley Trails

The trails below and around Walterdale Bridge are part of the city’s 160km of continuous river valley trail system. Trail users no longer need to cross traffic to continue along the trails.

River Valley Trails

The trails below and around Walterdale Bridge are part of the city’s 160km of continuous river valley trail system. Trail users no longer need to cross traffic to continue along the trails.

River Valley Trails

The underside of the bridge was an important design element. Trails are designed for people and animals to easily cross, and the bridge is aesthetically pleasing from the river for boats as well.

River Valley Trails

Under the bridge, the high water levels during historic flood years are noted on the abutments. There are less markings on the north side because the elevation of the north bank is higher.

Road Realignment

Roads approaching the new Walterdale Bridge were realigned for a smoother approach to the river crossing and Kinsmen Sports Centre, along with safer pedestrian crossings.

The Team

The physics involved might make engineering students shudder. Steel fabricators didn’t just deliver 125-tonne puzzle pieces, they delivered 42 pieces deliberately misshapen so the forces within the bridge could form it into the right geometry.

Elise Stolte, Edmonton Journal
Walterdale Bridge - The Design Story A bridge that connects the city, nature, and people.
Identifying an Opportunity

The old Walterdale Bridge was approaching the end of its life, and needed to be replaced. At first, the City of Edmonton was interested in a fairly pragmatic replacement. DIALOG had been working on an EXPO bid and West Rossdale Urban Design Plan. Though the EXPO bid didn’t move forward, these projects planted a seed in everyone’s mind about a new bridge.

Significant Site

The location in the heart of the river valley is rich in history with nearby attractions. The area on the northeast side of the bridge has significant historic and cultural importance. There is the Traditional Burial Grounds/Fort Edmonton Cemetery which includes a memory circle, re-interment area, and historic graveyard.

Concept Design

DIALOG prepared four bridge type options to share with the public. After consultation, the majority preferred the arch bridge concept.

Preliminary Design

From there, we explored the styles of arch bridge that would be possible at a range of budgets. The chosen design fits best within the budget, site constraints, and integrates best with the urban environment.

Detailed Design

The selected design is a gracious, single span, twin through-arch steel structure, spanning 206m from bank to bank across the North Saskatchewan River. Not only was it a complex bridge to engineer, the construction was equally as challenging.

Strong Foundations

Large thrust blocks are each made of about 600m3 of concrete and 44 steel micropiles installed 20m below the road elevation, which is as deep as a six-storey parking garage.

Arch Assembly

Each arch rib is made up of 21 steel box segments with masses of up to 125 tonnes, using 1,500 bolts at each connection. End segments were erected from temporary berms.

Arch Floats

Central sections were assembled on the south bank, transported, and then lifted into place in two critical lifts. It was a highly precise task, and a race against time as the river was freezing up for winter.

Bridge Deck

The bridge deck is a steel framework supporting a cast-in-place concrete deck covered with asphalt. It used 65 tonnes of reinforcing steel and 1,600m3 of concrete. The bridge currently carries three lanes of traffic, but is designed so that another lane can easily be added.

Careful Realignment

The northeast bank has significant historic and Indigenous cultural importance. The new alignment and construction methods were carefully chosen to respect this.

Awards

2019 Award of Excellence (Transportation Infrastructure – Transportation Structures)Consulting Engineers of Alberta
2019 Alberta Steel Design Award of Excellence (Bridges)Canadian Institute of Steel Construction (CISC)
2020 Award of Excellence – Large-Scale Landscape Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA)