Johnson Street Bridge Victoria BC

This is a view of the Johnson Street Bridge in Victoria BC

Where is the Johnson Street Bridge?

The Johnson Street Bridge is located at 400 Johnson Street in Victoria, B.C. The bridge connects downtown Victoria to West Victoria (West Vic) and Esquimalt. It’s a bustling bridge for commuters in both directions, with an estimated 30,000 crossings per day (2018). It’s one of two bridges the City of Victoria maintains. You’ll want to add this unique bridge to your list of things to see and do in Victoria BC. The bridge lights up blue at night, perhaps as a nod to it’s predecessor, the Blue Bridge, and is a worthwhile sight to visit.

We walk and drive over the Johnson Street Bridge often, at least two to three times every week, then back again to return home.

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What type of Bridge is it? What’s it used for?

The Johnson Street Bridge Victoria is known as a lift Bascule Bridge. In fact it is the largest single-leaf rolling lift bascule bridge in Canada. It was installed in 2018, after many delays and added costs. We attended the ceremony of this long awaited and much debated bridge opening on March 31, 2018.

In addition to connecting communities, the lift bridge allows marine traffic to pass through the Gorge Waterway. If you are fortunate with your timing and are able to watch the bridge lift then lower, you’ll see it’s a relatively quick process. This will help you understand the importance of this design and structure in Victoria Harbour every day life.

A unique perspective showing both the new modern bridge and the older "Blue" bridge on Johnson Street, both being lift bridges.

What’s the history of the Johnson Street Bridge?

The picture above shows the old (blue) bridge, next to the now existing bridge.

The new modern bridge is actually the fourth bridge at this location. It was a long time coming, and was the result of a tremendous debate when originally approved by council in August, 2010. This would result in a referendum in November 2010 with the new bridge moving forward. After significant delays due to manufacturing issues and added costs, the bridge opened to traffic March 31, 2018.

The Blue Bridge

The previous bridge, dubbed the “Blue Bridge” was dismantled beginning in April, 2018. The Blue Bridge wasn’t always blue. In fact, it was black when it was first opened in 1924. Along with many repairs in 1979, the bridge was painted blue to match the lamp posts being used in the city at that time.

The Blue Bridge (originally the black bridge )was also a Bascule Bridge, and was designed by Joseph Strauss, the same man who designed the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

People walking on the old Johnson Street Bridge, the day it became no longer in service - this is the Blue Bridge sunset picture.

E&N Swing Bridge

Before the Blue Bridge there was a hand operated Swing Bridge at this location, dating back to 1888. This was erected by the E&N Railway. The bridge had some flaws, and was used only by trains and people/ pedestrians (who walked alongside the train tracks). Mainly, it could not be used by motor vehicles, and so had limitations. It operated for only 35 years, until 1923.

Victoria Bridge

Originally, before the Swing Bridge there was the Victoria Bridge, constructed for wagons in 1855 over the Gorge Waterway. As it blocked access to the inner harbour, it was replaced seven years later by a ferry service in 1862.

The ferry service would remain until 1888.

How long is the current bridge?

The Bridge is 46 metres long.

Is it for traffic and pedestrians?

This bridge is a multiuse structure. It allows for 3 lanes of traffic, a pedestrian walkway on the south (inner harbour) side, and multipurpose walkway (for cyclists, skate boards, scooters and pedestrians) on the north (Gorge) side. The entire structure lifts to allow ships and marine traffic to pass through.

Can cyclists use the Johnson Street Bridge?

Yes, cyclists are welcome to use the pathway to cross the bridge on the north side. There are single direction bicycle lanes both ways on the vehicle traffic lanes.

Is there a schedule for the lifting of the Johnson Street Bridge?

There’s no specific schedule for the lifting of the Johnson Street Bridge.

Those requiring a lift of the Bridge in order to pass through the Gorge Waterway would contact the Bridge Operator at least 90 minutes prior to being able to cross through.

There are no bookings allowed during peak traffic hours (from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.) Monday to Saturday. To locals, it can sometimes seem as though the bridge will Iift at the busiest possible times.

As indicated, that’s not the case, however this is a busy traffic area, so in all likelihood drivers, pedestrians and cyclists will be held up for a few minutes while the bridge lifts to let marine traffic pass through.

Where is the best place to watch the bridge lift?

On either side of the bridge you will get an incredible view of the bridge lifting and lowering. You will also see the marine traffic pass through which can be an interesting experience.

Apart from seeing the bridge lift, is it worth viewing?

Of course, this bridge is worth a visit, even if it isn’t in the process of lifting. You will not be able to time that experience though you might be fortunate to see it.

Johnson Street Bridge in lift mode at night.

Even if the bridge isn’t in lift operation, you can still see some incredible views of the inner harbour and the Gorge Waterway from the bridge.

It seems to be a favourite spot for tourists to take selfies and photos of charming downtown Victoria.

The Johnson Street Bridge lights up blue at night giving it a very different look than during the day. You can sometimes catch sunset from the bridge, or just after sunset with the gorgeous colours of the sky behind the bridge.

Sunset over the beautiful Johnson Street Bridge.

It’s definitely worth a walk over this unique bridge, perhaps during your self-guided tour of Victoria from the cruise port.

Where is there to stay within walking distance to the Johnson Street Bridge?

There are many hotels close to the Johnson Street Bridge. Some hotels, like the Delta Ocean Pointe across the bridge from downtown, depending on the room you choose, may even have a view of the bridge.

Victoria downtown is very walkable, and you will find amenities to be close by regardless of the hotel you choose. You may find yourself walking along the David Foster Inner harbour pathway which begins very close to the Johnson Street Bridge and ends at Ogden Point Cruise ship terminal.

When you walk across the Johnson Street Bridge from downtown, you will see the beginning of the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, as well as a work in progress to connect the E&N Rail Trail along Esquimalt Road. The Westsong Walkway begins at the Delta Ocean Pointe Hotel, and ends in Esquimalt at West Bay Marina.

Our recommendation would be to stay a few days in the city if possible. If you do, you’ll find yourself walking over this bridge a few times. There are many things to see in Victoria BC, and it’s an active and charming city to visit!

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  1. I would love to be there when the bridge is lifting or maybe biking on it! I liked the article, it made me discover a new place! thanks for sharing it!

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