Introducing the Calgary Stampede’s New Bridge

The Calgary Stampede is known for having the best in all things western and ever since last year has become known for the flood of 2013; the new bridge on Stampede Park brings both of these together! The Stampede began installing a new bridge to replace the blue bridge that was washed away in last year’s flood. This new bridge will be more durable and flood resistant. It also takes into consideration our western heritage by adding in western features, for example, the “bracing members” on the bridge were designed high enough above the bridge deck to allow a person on horseback to comfortably pass below the bridge structure!

Weadick Bridge - view from river

The Stampede has worked with many partners to ensure the new bridge is environmentally friendly and flood mitigated. In fact, there are approximately 20 local and Canadian firms working on this project! Robert Clarke, senior project coordinator at Graham, Rick Speigelberg, project manager at Lawson Projects, and Jim Bellingham, capital projects and construction manager at the Calgary Stampede, shared their insights on this project.

There are many types of bridges built for different purposes. The Stampede’s new bridge is a single span steel arch bridge spanning 46.5 meters from abutment to abutment. Since the bridge is supported on each bank, with no pier in the water, floating materials will not get caught on the structure, it is less invasive to river bottom and there is no obstruction for rafters using the river. This design respects the Elbow Rivers spawning grounds of brown trout. The Stampede always strives to ensure that all projects in and around the river are compatible to this important fish and wildlife habitat.

Weadick Bridge - close up of workers

Considering the Stampede’s old bridge was washed away in last year’s floor, the new bridge has many features to protect it against future flooding. The bridge has a concrete-filled steel tube below flood level to combat impact damage on the steel arch section and large rip-rap (small boulders) placed on the bank to protect the soil on the bank from erosion. As mentioned above, the single span design of the bridge not only minimizes environmental intrusion, but avoids placing a portion of the bridge in the floodway.

The bridge deck is also significantly higher than the old bridge deck. Previously, the elevation of the 2013 flood was approximately 1.0 meter above the bridge deck. With the new design, the 2013 flood would have only touched the face of the deck edge beams. Another great feature of the bridge is that during high water flows, the bridge is designed for water to flow over the deck and the hand rails were designed to fold down. This allows floating debris to pass over the bridge and reduces the chance of materials in the river getting caught on the structure.

Weadick Bridge - employee in basket

The bridge’s installation began on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 and required the help of a 500 ton crane, which is one of the largest mobile cranes available; the crane was used to hoist the assembled arch over the river. Pending weather and other factors, the Stampede anticipates that the bridge will open in May of 2015.

Weadick Bridge - employees working

This bridge is a great glimpse into the Stampede’s near future as it will act as a gateway from Stampede Park to ENMAX Park. ENMAX Park will lay along the Elbow River and will be a beautiful inner city public park, a new gathering placeand the future home of the Stampede’s Aboriginal peoples’ programming and Indian Village. For more information on the Stampede’s expansion projects, visit