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High Level Bridge (Edmonton)

The High Level Bridge is a bridge that spans the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Located next to the Alberta Legislature Building, the bridge linked the separate communities of Edmonton and Strathcona, which became one city in 1912. It was designed from the outset to accommodate rail, streetcar, automobile and pedestrian traffic. The bridge was designated a Municipal Historic Resource in 1995.[3] Trucks are prohibited on the bridge due to the low clearance of 3.2 metres (10 ft 6 in) and substandard lane width. Currently street traffic is one-way southbound. At the north end of the bridge, 109 Street becomes the left lane, and 110 Street becomes the right lane. The next bridge downstream, the Walterdale Bridge, is a three-lane bridge with one-way northbound traffic into the downtown.

High Level Bridge
Edmonton's High Level Bridge from north bank, above LRT portal, September 2006
Coordinates53°31′50″N 113°30′38.4″W / 53.53056°N 113.510667°W / 53.53056; -113.510667Coordinates: 53°31′50″N 113°30′38.4″W / 53.53056°N 113.510667°W / 53.53056; -113.510667
Carries109 Street,
High Level Bridge Streetcar
CrossesNorth Saskatchewan River
LocaleEdmonton, Alberta, Canada
Maintained bythe City of Edmonton
Heritage statusMunicipal Historic Resource
DesignPhillips B. Motley, CPR
MaterialSteel trusses on concrete piers
Total length777 m (2,549 ft)
Width2 vehicular lanes, one-way
Longest span88 m (289 ft)
No. of spans28
Piers in water4
Clearance below48 m (157 ft)
Constructed byJohn B. Gunn and Sons[1]
OpenedJune 2, 1913[2]
High Level Bridge is located in Edmonton
High Level Bridge
High Level Bridge
Location in Edmonton

The Canadian Pacific Railway, responsible for the design of the bridge, ceased rail operations over the span in 1989. The upper deck contains only one track now, which is currently used only by the High Level Bridge Streetcar, a historic streetcar route that travels from the Strathcona Streetcar Barn & Museum, just north of the Strathcona Farmers Market, in Old Strathcona, to Jasper Plaza south of Jasper Avenue, between 109 Street and 110 Street, in downtown, with three intermediate stops.

Extensive repairs and the addition and widening of pedestrian sidewalks were completed in 1994–95. The original lead paint on the bridge was carefully removed, and over 100,000 litres of paint were used to recoat the girders.[1]

The Edmonton-area Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer uses a rivet hammer purportedly used in the bridge's construction as part of its ceremony.

In June 2009 the electrical wires supporting trolley bus operation on 109 Street were removed as part of the City of Edmonton's plan to retire trolley buses from service.

Every year at the end of October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month), CHBN-FM (91.7 Kiss) strings bras across the bridge for breast cancer awareness and research donation.

High Level Bridge under construction, 1912 or 1913


Light the BridgeEdit

In April 2013, a campaign called Light the Bridge was launched, with the aim of covering the bridge with LED lights so it can light up on special occasions.[4]

The campaign raised approximately $2.5 million for the project, which was unveiled on July 1, 2014. The official lighting of the bridge was synchronized to the tune of "O Canada", played by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and broadcast on CKUA radio.[5] The lights are capable of displaying many different colours and are often programmed to coordinate with local events, such as green and gold for games played by the Edmonton Eskimos.[6]

Great Divide WaterfallEdit

The Great Divide Waterfall during the annual sourdough raft race, July 2001

In 1980 the Great Divide Waterfall by artist Peter Lewis was added to the structure for Alberta's 75th anniversary. The man-made waterfall dropped 64 m (210 ft) from the top of the bridge, (7 m higher than Niagara Falls) into the North Saskatchewan River at a rate of 50,000 litres per minute. It operated during holiday weekends in the summer months until 2009 when it was shut off after consultation with Environment Canada.[7]

From roughly April 2012 to April 2013, city council deliberated on whether or not it should re-open the waterfall, and in 2013, $735 000 was allocated for "Great Divide waterfall refurbishment".[8] As of 2014, the city has all but scrapped the plans to refurbish the waterfall, citing the estimated $2.6 million price tag as too high. The final decision to decommission the waterfall was stayed until fall 2014, as public reaction was gauged and community fundraising options were considered.[9] In 2016, city council voted against the removal of the pipes for the waterfall. While there are no current plans to reactivate the falls, the decision to leave the pipes in place allows for that possibility in the future.[10]

The waterfall remains a part of the City of Edmonton's Public Art Collection.[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Herzog, Lawrence (February 16, 2006). "Edmonton's "Golden Gate" bridge". Edmonton Real Estate Weekly. Realtors Association of Edmonton. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
  2. ^ Cashman, Anthony Walcott (1976). Best Edmonton Stories. Edmonton: Hurtig. p. 120. ISBN 0-88830-106-5.
  3. ^ "Alberta Register Historic Places – High Level Bridge". HeRMIS. Retrieved 2010-03-03.
  4. ^ Hoang, Linda (April 29, 2013). "High Level Bridge lights project a 'signature' for world to see, donations start to come in". CTV Edmonton. Bell Media. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
  5. ^ Wittmeier, Brent (June 30, 2014). "Edmonton's Canada Day spectacular features Light the Bridge debut and fireworks (with video)". Edmonton Journal. Postmedia Network. Archived from the original on August 7, 2014. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
  6. ^ Mertz, Emily (October 25, 2013). "Light the Bridge campaign crosses halfway mark". Global Edmonton. Shaw Media. Retrieved August 7, 2014.
  7. ^ "Great Divide Waterfall". City of Edmonton. 2011. Archived from the original on June 16, 2011.
  8. ^ "Council Roundup – April 10, 2013". City of Edmonton. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  9. ^ "Edmonton's Great Divide Waterfall Has Taps Turned Off". Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  10. ^ "City barred from removing High Level Bridge pipes for pedestrian safety". Retrieved March 25, 2017.
  11. ^ "Great Divide | City of Edmonton Public Art Collection". Retrieved March 25, 2017.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Dudley B. Menzies Bridge
Rail bridge across the
North Saskatchewan River
Succeeded by
Clover Bar Railway Bridge
Bridge across the
North Saskatchewan River
Succeeded by
New Walterdale Bridge
Preceded by
Groat Bridge
Road bridge across the
North Saskatchewan River