The city has unveiled the design for two new pedestrian bridges that will traverse a pair of rail tracks in the west end, connecting Stanley Park with the Fort York historic grounds and the nearby waterfront.

The $19.7 million Fort York Pedestrian and Cycle bridge will actually consist of two separate stainless steel spans, one that will run above the Georgetown rail corridor near Strachan Avenue and another that will run above the Lakeshore rail corridor further south.

The project will also see the areas surrounding either bridge developed into parkland.

Construction will begin in the spring with a targeted completion date of spring 2017.

“It is an investment in connecting parts of our community together and creating a vibrant, mobile and liveable downtown core,” Mayor John Tory said of the project on Tuesday morning. “It is also part of our plan to incorporate public space into the way Toronto is growing and developing downtown. We do a good job of getting development done but we have done not such a good job of setting aside public space and public realm and connecting it with those neighbourhoods.”

Future of project was in doubt

Design options for the bridge were initially sought in 2008, however in 2011 then-Mayor Rob Ford pushed for the project to be spiked due to the $26 million price-tag.

The bridge, however, was eventually saved when members of the public works committee approved three cheaper designs and handed the final decision on which one to use off to the city’s planning department.

Fort York pedestrian bridge

Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Tory said it is time that public realm projects like the Fort York Pedestrian and Cycle bridge become a priority and not “political footballs.”

“It is high time we get on this. This is a project that is all about city building,” he said. “People who live in these new neighbourhoods that have been created in recent years need a place to play, a place to relax. The irony here is that we have in many cases excellent parkland and green space, but it is just not connected.”

In addition to connecting Stanley Park and to a lesser extent Trinity Bellwoods Park with Fort York, Tory said the project will also provide pedestrians and cyclists with a way to access a recently announced public space initiative underneath the western section of the Gardiner Expressway.

“It will be a unique combination of functionality and beauty,” he said.

Developers for the new bridges say the project has already passed through the public feedback and city approval process, meaning the design is unlikely to change.

Remember for instant breaking news follow @cp24 on Twitter.