Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises frees up Island Star despite LaSalle Causeway closure

On the morning of Thursday, May 23, 2024, one of the boats seemingly “trapped” by the extended closure of the LaSalle Causeway in downtown Kingston was set free from the north side of the waterway.

The Island Star, owned and operated by Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises, was slowly and carefully pulled beneath the fixed east side of the bridge network. The local cruise line has been calling for the federal government to find a way to release the numerous boats that have been trapped on the north side of the waterway since early April, when an “incident” caused the complete closure of the crossing, and left Kingston residents and visitors without any idea when the road and waterway would reopen.

Since then, through numerous updates from Public Service and Procurement Canada (PSPC), Kingstonist readers have learned that a diagonal element was compromised, and special equipment arrived to support the counterweight and allow work to be done on the structural component. In early May 2024, PSPC noted that the repair may take 8 to 10 weeks, subject to unforeseen issues that may be uncovered during repair work.

To facilitate the safe passage of the Island Star beneath the east bridge, the vessel was ballasted down to lower its bridge clearance height, and several large non-structural parts of the vessel’s aluminum second deck were removed, including the radar arch and parts of the wheelhouse, according to Eric Ferguson, General Manager for Kingston Destination Group, which operates Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises.

“This is expensive, technically intensive work. We will now take two weeks to replace second-deck elements that were removed to do this transit. The Island Star will begin operating Sunset Dinner Cruises on its regular schedule beginning Friday, June 7,” he shared with Kingstonist.

The Island Star, back at Crawford Wharf. The vessel needs to be rebuilt before resuming tours in June. Photo via Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises.

“I am tremendously proud of our marine teams who executed this challenging transit with precision,” Ferguson stated. 

He noted that other vessels are still trapped, including their third vessel, the Island Belle, which is too tall to be lowered the same way the Island Star was.

“It is frustrating to have been forced to do this technically complex and expensive work, to cut our vessel into pieces, at our own expense without federal assistance, to fit under the east span bridge that can and should have been lifted out of the way weeks ago to open up a navigation channel,” Ferguson expressed.

“The federal government has not acted on its responsibility to restore navigation, so instead today we took action, at great expense and with major modifications to our vessel, to protect our role in the community and try to save what remains of our spring season. We have commitments to operate the Island Star in June, and we will meet them.”

The Island Queen is also operating tours — it was not overwintering on the marina side of the LaSalle Causeway this year. Still, Ferguson voiced his feelings on the responsibilities that lie at the feet of the feds.

“The federal government can and must lift the fixed east span of the bridge that we passed under today, to reopen this channel to navigation,” he stated.

With files from Tori Stafford.

2 thoughts on “Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises frees up Island Star despite LaSalle Causeway closure

  • Could the editor please review the use of quotation marks?

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      I’ve reviewed this article again, this time specifically looking at quotation mark use, and I don’t see any issues. I suspect you’re referring to the use of quotation marks on the words ‘trapped’ and ‘incident’ in the article. Those are terms that sources have used – in this case, the operators of the boat lines used the term ‘trapped,’ and PSPC was the agency that described what led to the closure of the causeway as an ‘incident’ (which is linked to where the article uses that term).

      Quotation marks are meant to denote that someone said something, and in those cases referenced above, someone used those terms specifically – we just used them here as they’ve been repeated throughout the ongoing closure of the causeway.

      If I am missing something or you’d like to discuss this further, please feel free to email me at [email protected]!

      Thanks,

      Tori Stafford
      Editor-in-Chief
      Kingstonist

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