$400 million dismantling of old Champlain Bridge entering newest stage

The dismantling of the old Champlain Bridge is about to enter a new phase, with the roadway now completely detached from the highway on Nuns' Island.

“We just finished deconstructing the abutment and two spans on Nuns' Island, so that was the first step of the work,” said Nathalie Lessard, spokesperson for the corporation that oversees the Champlain and Jacques Cartier bridges.

Next month, work will begin on the bridge itself, beginning on Nuns' Island working its way across the river towards Brossard.

“Sixty-five per cent of the work will be happening over the St. Lawrence River on huge catamaran barges that are equipped with lifting towers and platforms,” said Lessard.

Section by section, the bridge deck will be lowered to the barge where it will be disassembled and taken to shore. Cranes will then take apart the support piers before the underwater structure is chipped up and removed.

“The most spectacular section of the work will be happening on the steel structure, basically the suspended span that's located over the St. Lawrence seaway,” said Lessard. “It weighs 2,200 tonnes and it will be lowered onto a huge barge as well.”

Lessard said the goal is to recycle or reuse 90 per cent of the 280,000 tonnes of material.

Simon Hebert of New Horizons St-Laurent, the company in charge of the project, said extra precautions are being taken to protect the environment and nearby inhabitants.

“We have what we call live monitoring,” he said. “Every single day, it controls the level of noise, level of air quality and the (conditions) in the St-Lawrence River."

The $400-million deconstruction project included a revamped shoreline. Public consultations will be held over the course of the next three years on how the area should be developed.  

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