Dawson Bridge Watch™: ‘Tha briiiiiiiiiidge issss aaaaaaaauuuuuuwwwtt!’

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I know I’ve probably mentioned this before, and tweeted about it about a million times, but I live in a very unique neighbourhood in Edmonton. It represents a confluence of tired beatniks, closeted and former communists, artisans, and the kinds of neighbours who wave and say hello as you walk past. It’s called Riverdale, my friends, and it’s truly one of the City of Champion’s unplucked gems.

Yes, I’ll wait while you make several Riverdale/Archie & Jughead jokes… Finished? Good.

One of the unique things about Riverdale is that there are basically only two roads in or out of the neighbourhood — and the second such road isn’t even worthy of the name. It’s less a road and more a highly-confusing intersection. The other somewhat major road (Rowland Road) leads to the eastern part of the city via a bridge. An old bridge. A bridge that was open until January 4th of this year.

That bridge is called “Dawson.” And this post is the first in a series of monthly updates on the progress of the rehabilitation of the bridge, and the various ways its closure has inconvenienced me, and no doubt tens of other people.

But first, Dawson’s story

I don’t wanna wait / for your struts to be rusted / I don’t wanna know / right now what it will be

The Dawson Bridge is 97 years old. Originally built out of popsicles sticks in 1913 by a kindergartener named Dawson, the bridge’s storied history is long. And storied. Just, not anywhere on the internet.

However, given that Riverdale used to be home to a brick-making company, I can only assume that the bridge was used primarily to haul bricks across the river, so they could be used to build east Edmonton and, ostensibly, a Wal-Mart on 50th street.

The $22-million rehabilitation of the Dawson should add 40 years to its life. And if sandblasting worked on people, I’d live FOREVER.


Despite the fact that the city publicized the ever-loving crap out of the bridge closure, thousands of Edmontonians have been caught making U-turns — or “whipping shitties,” as Saskatechewanites are so fond of saying — at the bottom of Rowland Road.

On both sides of the closed bridge — in spite of a minimum of 500 metres of signage on either side describing the fact that there’s no bloody way you’re crossing this river. Like, not even on a zipline or with rocket boots.

I have witnessed no less than four such ocassions, and it would appear that the best way to whip a shitty is to accelerate, slam on the brakes and come to a complete stop, stare in consternation at the massive roadblocks, slowly turn around and drive away hoping none of the residents noticed.

Oh, we noticed. And we’re blogging about it.

Back from whence you came…

In next month’s installment of Dawson Bridge Watch™, we’ll talk to some of the residents of Riverdale to see how the bridge closure has inconvenienced them OR somehow enhanced their lives (it’s actually nice and quiet down here in the valley).

I know, the suspense is killing you.

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