A call to tenders will be issued this summer for companies to make a bid to demolish the old Champlain Bridge. The contract will probably be awarded at the beginning of 2020, and the actual demolition will only begin about six months later.
John Mahoney / Montreal Gazette
Feeling sad about the old Champlain Bridge closing? Well, the sentimental among us will eventually be able to hold a piece of the old bridge in their hands.The Montreal-bound side of the bridge was closed on Monday morning, when half the new Samuel De Champlain Bridge was opened. The old bridge will be closed for good as of Friday night and the new bridge will be completely opened to traffic next Monday, July 1, at 5 a.m.“People who want a piece of history can have one,” Infrastructure Minister François-Philippe Champagne said Monday morning after being one of the first to drive on the new Champlain Bridge. “A bridge that served Montrealers for 60 years, we should give back a piece. We launched that idea yesterday and already people have told us they are interested. Artists have asked us for a piece of the iron on the bridge to turn it into an art work.”Built in 1962, the Champlain Bridge is actually one of the newer spans going across the St. Lawrence River. However, because it was not built with proper drainage, and because the bridge could not be disassembled and repaired, it had to be replaced. The decision to replace it was made in 2011, and a $500-million program to keep the structure standing began shortly afterward. The old bridge is 3.4 kilometres long and made up of 250,000 tonnes of concrete and 25,000 tonnes of steel.The Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc., the federal corporation that manages the bridges, says it will make sure anyone who wants to will be able to keep a piece of the bridge — free of charge — when the deteriorating structure is demolished.Nathalie Lessard, a spokesperson for the corporation said she’s not sure that iron or steel from the structure will be given out to the general public, because of the complexities of taking it off the bridge, but the corporation intends to give away pieces of the bridge’s concrete, because it has to be rendered into small pieces anyway as part of the deconstruction.“It’s like (when) the Berlin (fell); people were able to get pieces of the wall,” she said. “When we have enough little pieces, people will be able to come and get a souvenir. But how that’s going to happen, and when that’s going to happen has not been decided yet.”Lessard said the corporation intends to reuse as much of the material from the old bridge as possible.Lessard said the corporation wants to make sure that the steel from the bridge is given to companies that can reuse it as it is.Much of the steel from the bridge is still in good shape, she explained, because over the last five years the bridge was outfitted with massive steel trusses that took the weight off the crumbling concrete beams that hold up the roadway.“We don’t want the steel for it to be melted into other steel parts, because it’s not environmentally friendly; it’s better for the material to be reused as it is,” she said. “The steel trusses are only five years old. They’re intact. They’re strong, and they can maybe be used on smaller bridges, on cycling paths or something. They can be used as structural components for buildings, so we’re looking for organizations that would want some of these metal parts.”She said the corporation also hopes to repurpose the steel from the superstructure, but to do that, the structure will have to be disassembled because of its large size.Champagne said his first preference for the old bridge was to have it turned into a sort of park like the High Line Park in New York City — a 2.3-kilometre linear park created from an abandoned railway. However, bridge officials told him it would be unsafe to do this, because the bridge is crumbling under its own weight: 80 per cent of the weight of the old bridge is its structure, while only 20 per cent comes from the vehicles that roll on it.The corporation will issue a call to tenders over the summer for companies to make a bid to demolish the bridge. The contract will probably be awarded at the beginning of 2020, and the actual demolition will only begin about six months later, Lessard said.An online consultation site: champlaindeconstruction.ca asks the public to fill out questionnaires on the best way to safely dismantle it and protect the environment. The demolition is expected to be completed in 2022, at a cost of $400 million. Dismantling is expected to be a complex process, as sections of the steel and reinforced concrete will have to be removed piece by piece without dumping them in the river. Elements will be removed by road and on barges in the email@example.com/jasonmagderfacebook.com/jasonmagderjournalistRelated