Mayor, MP: Construction of third crossing is now ‘full steam ahead’

A rendering of the latest design plans for the third crossing. Image supplied by the City of Kingston.

In-water construction of the third crossing will begin “in just days,” Mayor Bryan Paterson said after the City received approval on the Detailed Impact Assessment (DIA) for the project.

The City of Kingston received that approval from Parks Canada on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019, after working with departments and agencies of the federal government over the past year. That work included a 30-day public engagement process, and was finalized by the approval of the DIA.

“This is great news. It’s a key milestone for us. This work has been ongoing for at least a couple of years now, and to get all of the details in place for a project of this size has been a major undertaking,” Paterson said.

“But to have the green light now means that construction can start right away, and people in the community will quickly see all of the work that’s going to be happening in the water as we start the bridge construction.”

The DIA is “the most intensive form of environmental review conducted through Parks Canada’s regulatory process and was the process selected to analyze the environmental considerations, impacts and mitigation strategies for the project,” according to the City of Kingston. And Paterson underlined just how thorough the process is.

“The fact that the DIA was 1,500 pages long really speaks to the level of detail and the number of factors that have been addressed. This is almost looking at every single detail of the bridge, and of the construction of the bridge, and how it relates and how it we’re going to protect the natural environment around it, whether it’s wildlife or habitat in water, on the shores,” he said, noting that there is “nothing holding us back” from beginning the in-water construction work.

“So it’s been a very, very in-depth exercise to get all of those details in place, and so everything from materials, the way the bridge will be constructed, how we can ensure that everything is done in an environmentally-friendly, responsible way.”

Paterson said the on-shore work on both the east and west side of the Cataraqui River is now complete, and residents should expect to see in-water activity in the coming days.

“Now it’s full-steam ahead on the in-water work… this is days away,” he said.

“I’m sure that people driving by on the east or west side will immediately see the construction activity that will be taking place, and it’s going to ramp up very quickly.”

Mark Gerretsen, Member of Parliament (MP) for Kingston and the Islands, echoed Paterson’s sentiments and excitement. Elected in 2015, Gerretsen has made the third crossing one of his top priorities for Kingston, working to secure federal funding for the project — $60 million, which was the final third of the $180 million cost. The other $120 million came from the Province of Ontario and the City of Kingston.

“I’m extremely happy to hear that the final approvals have been given. I know that Parks Canada played a big role in this given that the control the approval to work in the waterway there, and a lot of due diligence is put into it, including consultation with the public,” Gerretsen said.

“Now it’s full steam ahead in terms of the work that needs to happen in the water itself.”

Gerretsen said he has been closely following the construction work that has taken place on either side of the river, including the removal of trees and the erection of fencing to protect the local turtle population during construction.

“So this is a significant milestone, and I’m thrilled to see we’re moving along. And it’s all in the City and the contractor’s hands now to get this built,” he said.

And while, as a resident of the city’s east end, Gerretsen is looking forward to actually using the bridge – which is set to have a three-year build plan – he’s actually more excited to see what having the third crossing will mean to the city.

“There are so many people other than me that have been waiting for this, and I’m more excited for them, and the fact that they’ll be able to… use this new crossing, and a new connection between the city,” Gerretsen expressed.

“This is really an opportunity to bring the city together. This is uniting two parts of the city that are separated,” he continued, noting that, within the city limits, there are only two points to cross the river.

“This really completes that east-west corridor that the city has needed for so long, so I’m thrilled to see that it’s finally happening.”

The City anticipates releasing the final approved DIA on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019, along with a public engagement summary, which will include what the Third Crossing Team heard during the public engagement process via emails, comment cards, and in-person at two public open houses.

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