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High Level Bridge

High Level Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): C. Hanchey, CC BY-NC 2.0, flickr.com/photos/21953562@N07/

Bridge Documented: May 23, 2015

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
109 Street and Railroad (Streetcar) Over North Saskatchewan River
Edmonton: Edmonton, Alberta: Canada
Structure Type
Metal 12 Panel Rivet-Connected Baltimore Deck Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Rivet-Connected Warren Deck Truss, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1913 By Builder/Contractor: John B. Gunn and Sons and Engineer/Design: Phillips B. Motley
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
289.0 Feet (88.1 Meters)
Structure Length
2,550.0 Feet (777.2 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
3 Main Span(s) and 25 Approach Span(s)
Inventory Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This large bridge is an extremely rare example of a combined highway and railway double-deck bridge. The bridge features rare Baltimore deck truss main spans. The bridge was built 1910-13 by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). It originally carried railroad and streetcar traffic on the upper deck and automobile and pedestrian traffic on the lower level. The upper deck now only carries seasonal streetcars. The High Level Bridge was designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Site by the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE) in 1987. It was designated as a Municipal Historic Resource by the City of Edmonton in 1995 and added to the Canadian Register of Historic Places.

Information and Findings From Alberta Register of Historic Places

Discussion of Bridge

High Level Bridge

Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The High Level Bridge is a massive steel truss multi-function bridge with a total of 28 spans, set on a combination of concrete piers and steel legs. The High Level Bridge is 777.24 metres long and the base of the rail deck is 47.55 metres above the North Saskatchewan River mean water level. It links 109 Street on Edmonton’s south side with 109 Street in Edmonton’s downtown.

Heritage Value
The High Level Bridge is significant as one of the four great steel truss bridges constructed by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in Canada before World War One. The High Level Bridge was constructed between 1910 and 1913, and its design employs two distinct truss types, the Pratt Truss and the Warren Truss, for the steel substructure. The steel superstructure features two decks, one twenty feet above the other. The High Level Bridge, despite alterations and ongoing maintenance, retains its historical character and integrity of design and fabric.

The High Level Bridge has unique significance in western Canada for its original combination of four modes of transportation: train, streetcar, automobile and pedestrian. Streetcar traffic ceased in 1951, and the CPR stopped running trains over the upper deck in 1989. Vehicular traffic and a pedestrian walkway continue on the lower deck, while a tourist streetcar runs seasonally on the upper deck.

The High Level Bridge is also significant as a landmark and as an icon for the city of Edmonton.

Source: City of Edmonton (Bylaw 11114)

Character-Defining Elements
The original construction techniques, scale, design and visual impact of the High Level Bridge are expressed in character-defining structural elements that include:
- form and massing exemplified by 28 spans, including three massive center Pratt Truss spans (each 87.78 metres long), the seven Pratt Truss spans (each 29.26 metres long), and six tower spans (each 14.33 metres long) on steel legs that form the south side approach, two Warren Truss spans (each 39.62 metres long) on the north approach;
- four central reinforced concrete piers set in the river bed;
- original bridge superstructure that includes the lower traffic deck and the upper rail deck with existing arrangement of steel members and reinforced concrete;
- steel substructure below the lower deck;
- metals handrails flanking the length of the bridge on both the east and west sides;
- two decks each 11.89 metres wide and 6.10 metres one above the other;
- all black painted surfaces.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Double-Deck


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