Crews prepare Blackfriars Bridge to be removed for restoration work, November 14, 2017. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

Blackfriars Bridge Removal Coming Soon

Blackfriars Bridge will soon be coming down.

Details will be released Thursday regarding the impending removal of the bridge, which is to be dismantled and taken to an offsite facility for rehabilitation work. Restoring the 140-year-old structure comes with an $7.9-million price tag, but is expected to extend the life of the bridge by another 75 years.

Blackfriars Bridge, dubbed one of the oldest and rarest bridges in Canada, was built in 1875. The wrought iron bowstring arch-truss bridge spans the north branch of the Thames River, connecting Ridout St. to Blackfriars St. It was designated as a Heritage Structure in April 1992 and appears on both the Ontario Heritage Bridge list and the Canadian Register of Historic Places.

Last June, the structure was also recognized for its historic engineering with a national civic engineering site designation by the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering.

Years of wear and tear and excessive deterioration led to Blackfriars being closed to vehicle traffic in September 2013. Prior to that, 4,500 vehicles a day crossed the bridge. In October, pedestrians and cyclists were required to find alternate river crossings as construction crews began work to prepare the bridge for its big move. That work included the removal of safety features like pedestrian fencing, traffic railings, pedestrian railings, and deck boards.

Blackfriars will be given a proper send off at an event scheduled for Thursday morning. Local dignitaries including London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos and Mayor Matt Brown will gather and offer remarks before the bridge is removed.

The city anticipates Blackfriars Bridge will be returned to its spot above the Thames next fall.

While current plans suggest eastbound vehicle traffic will once again flow across the bridge at that time, there remains some opposition from area residents. Some would rather the structure be exclusively used for pedestrian and cyclist traffic.