LaSalle Causeway reopens to marine traffic

The LaSalle Causeway with much of the bascule bridge section removed before the span was officially reopened to marine traffic on Thursday, Jun. 20, 2024. Photo by Aerosnapper Kingston.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated since it was originally published on Thursday, Jun. 20, 2024, at 2:54 p.m. Please see bottom of article for most recently updated information.

Work on the demolition of the lift bridge section of the LaSalle Causeway has made for dramatic photos illustrating the end of the “singing bridge” well known to all Kingstonians, and now a milestone has been reached.

Following work on the morning of Thursday, Jun. 20, 2024 on the span where marine traffic travelled through the bridge – and the escape of the Canadian Empress from Kingston’s Inner Harbour – Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has announced the official reopening of the waterway.

“PSPC has been working closely with Priestly Demolition Inc., which has engaged specialized teams that have been working 12-hour shifts daily to expedite the Bascule Bridge demolition. As a result, the demolition and removal of the bridge structure has been progressing ahead of schedule,” the federal agency said in a press release just after 2 p.m.

At the last update from PSPC, the reopening of the waterway to marine traffic had been scheduled to occur “by June 30,” and with all of the delays in the project that eventually turned into a demolition, many were not convinced that date was a real deadline.

“We can now confirm that the LaSalle Causeway is fully open for marine navigation as of 12 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time) on June 20,” the press release continues.

Kingstonist has reached out to PSPC to find out how long the waterway will remain open to marine traffic as it is, but did not receive immediate response.

In its press release, PSPC said it continues to “develop a plan in partnership with the City of Kingston to reinstate access for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians using a temporary bridge solution.”

“At the same time, we have also started preliminary work regarding a permanent replacement bridge,” the statement continued.

“PSPC remains committed to protecting the safety of Canadians through ongoing investments in its infrastructure. More information will be shared as it becomes available. We encourage users to consult our public notices and social media channels for updates.”

There is no known timeline for the installation and/or opening of a temporary bridge, nor for the procurement and construction of a new replacement bridge.

Daniel Beals, Director of Marketing and Human Resources for St. Lawrence Cruise Lines, explained that there was not much advance notice of the reopening that allowed his company’s Canadian Empress to return to Crawford Wharf at the base of Brock Street.

“I think all of the companies involved have been watching the removal of the causeway with great interest, and we have been surprised at how quickly work was coming along. We received word around noon today that there might be an opportunity to transit through the open channel this afternoon, and we started preparing the vessel in earnest,” Beals said.

“After months of everything moving so slowly, everything today happened so fast. By 12:30 p.m., we were assured that we could leave Kingston Marina, and by 1:35 p.m., we were secure at Crawford Wharf.”

Beals expressed excitement at seeing the Canadian Empress begin cruising for the season. Albeit a late start, the first cruise will be offered very soon.

“Our first cruises will be two dinner cruises on June 28th and 29th in Kingston Harbour. These cruises will be a celebration of our ability to navigate freely once again, and we plan on making tickets available to the public,” he shared.

“After that, our first scheduled overnight cruise of the season will leave from Crawford Dock on Canada Day, bound for Ottawa.”

After a lot of hurry-up-and-wait, Beals shared a sense of easing of the grief St. Lawrence Cruise Lines has experienced since an “incident” led to the closure of Kingston’s 107-year-old bridge.

“It is a great relief to have access to the St. Lawrence River again, and we are excited to start our season,” said Beals.


Update (Friday, Jun. 21, 2024, 1:55 p.m.):

In response to Kingstonist inquiries, PSPC stated that marine navigation will remain open at the present time.

“PSPC will endeavour to provide adequate advance notice to the public regarding future closures of the channel to marine navigation,” the federal organization shared in an email.

“We encourage users to consult our public notices and social media channels for updates.”

Kingstonist will provide updated coverage of this matter as more information becomes available.

4 thoughts on “LaSalle Causeway reopens to marine traffic

  • The City of Kingston should give the workers on the demolition a huge public THANK YOU in front of City Hall. They’re working in extreme conditions, on a broken bridge in a record-setting heat wave and they are working 12-hour days, and got the bridge moved to allow boats through EARLY. Those workers deserve our gratitude.

  • Ms Howes makes a good point. And there is probably a good human interest story to be told.

  • Still have not seen any details or an engineering report on what damage was done to the bridge and why it could not be repaired. Just have to rely on council?

    • An earlier article on this very site went into detail. ?

      Basically, it wasn’t just the one being, it was the entire structure that was twisted by the structural failure. They said that have they tried to repair it, there was a possibility that the bridge would still be unable to open.

      In addition, even if they repaired it, the lifespan of the bridge was dramatically shortened by the damage.

      That all being said, I still believe the bridge deck can be saved. I’m hoping that they seriously consider using the original bridge as the temporary (permanent?) bridge, and do work to see if a replacement lifting section can be feasibly built onto the original bridge. The damage that was caused was strictly on the fixed structure.

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