On this day 50 years ago, Premier W.A.C. Bennett officially opened the Second Narrows Bridge. This was the second “Second Narrows Bridge” replacing the other that was built in 1925.
The First Narrows being the Lions Gate Bridge, this additional crossing provided broader access to the North Shore and Coastal Mountains and contributed to Vancouver’s leg of the Trans Canada Highway.
Construction began in 1956 and the bridge would be completed in 1960. However, two years before the project was done, a collapse of the North Arm killed 18 men on June 17th, 1958. One rescue worker also lost their life and 20 others were injured. [source].
From the Vancouver Police Museum:
“Many people questioned what failure in oversight had led to this terrible tragedy. Could the bridge’s collapse have been prevented? An inquest was held, in our own Coroner’s Court, now the main gallery of our museum. It was where that the jury learned that a company engineer had been on the bridge at the time of the collapse; he had been taking measurements because someone had raised concerns that the bridge had shifted – he was trying to ascertain if there was any danger. He died that day, as the bridge fell. Thanks to that inquest, recommendations were adopted that changed the way steel truss bridges were built, and those same rules help to protect our modern bridgeworkers.”
While a memorial was erected in their honor (located on the South side), it wasn’t until 1994 that the bridge was officially renamed the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge.
Local Bridge Timeline…
Pattullo Bridge opened 1937
Lions Gate Bridge (First Narrows) opened 1938
Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Bridge opened 1960
Port Mann Bridge opened 1964
Alex Fraser Bridge 1986