LaSalle Causeway likely to need replacing, PSPC refusing to confirm

Work continues on the LaSalle Causeway on May 12, 2024. Photo by Aerosnapper Kingston.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated since it was originally published on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, at 5:16 p.m. Please see bottom of article for most recently updated information.

After nearly two months of waiting, some members of Kingston’s tourism sector have communicated with Kingstonist that the likely future of the LaSalle Causeway will see it replaced.

As indicated in Kingstonist’s coverage of an earlier progression in the LaSalle Causeway debacle (which began in early April following a reported “incident” that led to the complete and unplanned closure of the bridge), the most recent work that’s been done on the bridge saw Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), the federal agency that oversees the maintenance of the causeway, bring in engineering technology to assess the state and future of the LaSalle Causeway bascule bridge. This was confirmed by PSPC after Kingstonist reported on the situation as per the account of Mark Gerretsen, Member of Parliament (MP) for Kingston and the Islands. Since then, local tourism entities and affected cruise boat lines have continued to push for updated information. Kingston 1000 Islands Cruises, fed up with waiting, took the extreme steps to free up its Island Star just last week.

Today, Tuesday, May 28, 2024, a meeting of local tourism and economic development organizations, along with some representatives from local businesses dependent on traversing the waters through the causeway, heard that the work PSPC is currently undertaking has led to the discovery of information indicating the bridge is not repairable. While not everyone around the table would confirm with Kingstonist that this was the case, both Daniel Beals, Marketing and Human Resources Coordinator for St. Lawrence Cruise Lines, and Marijo Cuerrier, Executive Director of the Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area (BIA), were more forthcoming. Both emphasized, however, that the information has not been ultimately confirmed by PSPC.

“That is the latest information,” Cuerrier responded when asked if it appears the LaSalle Causeway has to be entirely replaced.

“We just don’t have it in writing,” she said. “So it’s 90 per cent for sure.”

Beals echoed that percentage of certainty, but underscored he won’t believe anything until it’s confirmed by PSPC.

“We have been given information by people who are supposed to know that the bridge will be coming out,” said Beals, who did not want to name those people from whom the information was learned.

“But we’re not confident of the timelines right now,” he continued, noting that his colleagues in local tourism have indicated that PSPC has said it will have the area ready for navigation on the water by June 10 — a timeline that doesn’t seem plausible given that the information received by the local boat lines from engineers and contractors indicated the opening up of the concrete section of the causeway (the east end bridge) would take about three weeks.

Kingstonist had already reached out to PSPC on the morning of Tuesday, May 28, 2024, for updates on the progress being made and to find out if the timeline for the completion of the work originally given by PSPC was still on schedule. PSPC initially responded that it hopes to have “a Public Update” issued within the next two days. When pressed again with the information Kingstonist collected in the afternoon, PSPC would not confirm.

“Thank you for reaching out,” said Jeremy Link, a Media Relations representative with PSPC.

“We are aiming to issue a Public Notice tomorrow with the latest information available.”

Still, a brief document of updated details provided to Kingstonist by Cuerrier seems to indicate that the 90 per cent certainty she and Beals professed is based on a lot of information they’ve received:

LaSalle Causeway Update document via Marijo Cuerrier

For clarity, an RFI is a ‘Request for Information,’ which is issued by government bodies seeking information from consulting, construction, engineering, architectural, or other such firms regarding the possible plans for such projects. And RFP is a ‘Request for Proposals,’ which seeks more complete plans and financial quotes from firms interested in taking on those projects. TK refers to Tourism Kingston, while TIAC and TIAO refer to the Tourism Industry Associations of Canada and Ontario, respectively.

Kingstonist has reached out to MP Gerretsen but was unable to secure an interview with him before time of press. Kingstonist has also reached out to about a dozen different organizations and businesses concerned about the LaSalle Causeway situation.

This is a developing story. Kingstonist will continue to provide coverage of this matter as more information becomes available.

Update (Tuesday, May 28, 2024, at 6:10 p.m.):

MP Mark Gerretsen has now confirmed the above information in a post on his social media channels, which can be seen here.

“Ahead of PSPC’s official release, I am sharing the following publicly:

Based on the results of the laser survey, age of the bridge, and other considerations, it has been determined that demolishment of the existing bascule bridge is necessary.

Demolishment means removing the entire existing bridge structure from the navigation channel. This will require both an interim (temporary modular bridge) and long-term replacement (new moveable bridge) solution.

PSPC will be issuing 2 Requests for Proposals (RFPs):

  • for demolition
  • for a temporary replacement bridge

I will share PSPC’s official update as soon as it becomes available.

I would like to thank the public and all stakeholders for their patience as this process has unfolded. I have been advocating on behalf of this community, as recently as this afternoon during a meeting with the Minister and PSPC officials, to ensure that we communicate information in a timely fashion.”

Kingstonist will be speaking with the MP tomorrow morning.

4 thoughts on “LaSalle Causeway likely to need replacing, PSPC refusing to confirm

    • Me too! The design wasn’t at fault here; hopefully when they can dust off the plans and rebuild it the way it was.

  • I was wondering about the delay in getting the official word out. Now it makes a lot of sense. It would have been a bad idea to pull the trigger on a bridge replacement if they could determine that it could be repaired in a timely and cost-effective manner. Communication could have been better, though, but I also can understand how saying the wrong information could lead to lawsuits.

    The real question now: who is going to pay? I don’t know if the contractors insurance will be able to cover an expense this big. This goes well beyond your typical liability. Will definitely be taxpayers in the short term, but I wonder how much money PSPC will be able to drag out of the contractors and their insurers.

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