The City of Victoria will be conducting a formal safety review after a man was seen hanging from the elevated bridge on Friday, July 19. (Nicole Cresenzi/News Staff)

Victoria to review safety after man left hanging from raised bridge

More and more people seen ignoring safety measurements in place, city staff say

The City of Victoria will conduct a safety review after a man was left hanging on the Johnson Street Bridge after it was raised on Friday evening.

An investigation by the Victoria Police found that the intoxicated man deliberately ignored the bridge safety warnings, and was stuck for the duration of a raise about a quarter of the way up from the east side. The man held on by bracing his legs around the railing. The bridge had to finish its course, as a barge was passing underneath and couldn’t be stopped.

For Fraser Work, director of engineering and public works for the City of Victoria, this was a near-miss that is becoming more common.

READ MORE: Victoria Police issue warning after man left dangling from raised Johnson Street Bridge

“We’re seeing more and more people that are choosing to cross the bridge after the warnings have started because they don’t want to be inconvenienced,” Work said. “We really want to deter that type of behaviour, because it puts a lot of strain on a lot of safety measures and things we’re trying to protect.”

Presently, bridge operators have a layered safety protocol which includes communicating with the harbour master, alerting emergency services that the bridge is going up, flashing warning lights, putting down barricades and running audio announcements before any bridge movement happens. The operators also have cameras along the bridge, and a public announcement system to directly address someone.

If there’s enough time in a situation, operators can contact the tug boats and hope there’s enough space for oncoming vessels to redirect or slow down. However, if someone makes a last-second attempt to get on the bridge it can be difficult, if not impossible, to stop things from happening.

ALSO READ: Man dies after fall from Johnson Street Bridge

“These are very large heavy machines that are difficult to redirect,” Work said. “If someone chooses to hop out or sneak around the guard … at the end of the day there’s only so many checks operators can make.”

Work said that a similar safety review was conducted in December 2018 when an intoxicated man climbed on the railing of the Johnson Street Bridge before fatally falling into the water.

Works said minor things were changed after this incident, including the addition of a life ring into the operator’s shack, the redirection of some lighting and an adjustment to camera angles.

Work expects this review to take approximately two weeks, but is not sure if many changes will be seen.

“There’s lights, barricades, announcements and there’s the bell,” he said. “You’re not supposed to put yourself in that position. The question comes what’s prudent … I can’t protect someone if they deliberately put themselves in harm’s way.”

The City of Victoria as well as the Victoria Police Department are asking the public to follow all safety warnings and signs when approaching the Johnson Street Bridge.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

City of VictoriaJohnson Street bridge

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Haida Gwaii residents to be allowed conditional entry to Gwaii Haanas next month

Gwaii Haanas will reopen Aug. 1 to people who ‘attest to a set of specific conditions’ set out by CHN

Following incident at sea, fishing lodge says it will reopen despite Haida travel ban

QCL reopens July 10, says president; Haida chief councillor describes ‘dangerous’ boating encounter

More than $1.2 million announced for Masset water treatment plant upgrades

Residents of Masset, Old Massett to benefit from $1,241,500 in joint provincial-federal funding

From the archives of the Haida Gwaii Observer

50 YEARS AGO (1970): Highways Minister Wesley Black visited the islands and… Continue reading

On the Wing: Interpretation of the natural world

By Margo Hearne It’s summer on Haida Gwaii. A quieter time for… Continue reading

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Urge travellers to follow COVID-19 rules in a ‘gentle way’: B.C.’s top doctor

Cases surging in the U.S. have B.C. officials hoping the border stays shut all summer

96-year-old woman scales B.C. butte with help of family, friends

‘I did as I was told and I enjoyed every minute of it’

Parallel crises: How COVID-19 exacerbated B.C.’s drug overdose emergency

Part 1: Officials say isolation, toxic drug supply, CERB, contributing to crisis

Canadians with disabilities disproportionately hit by COVID-19 pandemic

More than four out of 10 British Columbians aged 70 and up have various disabilities

Camping offers a great pandemic escape, for less money than you might think

But for many first-timers, knowing what to bring can be a challenge

Turbulence in Canadian opinion on airlines COVID-19 response: poll

Thousands of people have beseeched Transport Minister Marc Garneau to compel airlines to issue refunds,

Most Read