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The SkyBridge, one of the world’s longest transit-only bridges (PHOTOS)

The SkyBridge, one of the world’s longest transit-only bridges (PHOTOS)

The SkyBridge under construction (Photo by Gordie McDonald, NWPF photo no. 2467)
Photo by Gordie McDonald, NWPF photo no. 2467

Ride the SkyTrain between Columbia and Scott Road Stations and you’re treated to amazing views of the Fraser River (and the iconic Pattullo Bridge with its orange arches).

As you whisk across, you’re riding the SkyTrain on the SkyBridge. When it opened, it was the world’s longest transit span and the world’s only cable-stayed bridge designed solely for carrying rapid transit. It held its distinction until 2019 when it was surpassed by the Egongyan Rail Transit Bridge in Chongqing, China.

Building the world’s first bridge for rapid transit

When the SkyTrain first opened in 1985, it operated from Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver to as far as New Westminster Station (at Columbia and Eighth Street). Two years later, in 1987, the line was extended 600 metres to Columbia Station (at Columbia and Fourth Street), and construction began on the SkyBridge and Scott Road Station in Surrey.

It started on Oct. 28, 1987 with the first 100-tonne bridge deck section was lifted to deck level and secured in place. The Surrey half of the bridge was completed first, followed by the New Westminster half.

One of the first riders

On Sept. 5, 1989, the Honourable Rita M. Johnston, who was the minister responsible for transit at the time, was one of the first people to ride the SkyTrain across the Fraser River on the SkyBridge. It marked the beginning of a six-month testing and commission period of the extension to Scott Road Station.

The station officially opened on Mar. 16, 1990, marking the SkyTrain’s arrival in Surrey. One year later, work began to extend the SkyTrain a further four kilometres into Surrey. The Gateway, Surrey Central and King George stations would open in 1993.

The banner unrolled after the ribbon cutting. (Photo by Alan M.)

An award-winning bridge

The SkyBridge, which was designed by engineering firm Bush Bohlman–Reid Gowther, won an award of excellence from the Consulting Engineers of Canada, recognizing its high quality of engineering, imagination and innovation. It was also named a winner in the 1989 Design Awards Program for the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute. The SkyBridge was among four winners chosen from more than 120 high-calibre entries in the international contest.

Do you have any memories  or feelings of SkyBridge? Leave us a comment on this post.