PSPC confirms demolition of LaSalle Causeway bridge to take place in coming weeks

The LaSalle Causeway in the summer of 2020. Photo by Lucas Mulder/Kingstonist.

Following much discussion on Tuesday, May 28, 2024, regarding the likely need to replace the currently damaged LaSalle Causeway, the federal agency in charge of the bridge has confirmed the demise of the more-than 100-year-old structure.

“Results from the confirmatory laser survey… have revealed additional and significant displacement and misalignment of certain key elements of the bridge structure. Therefore, the original estimated timeline for completing repairs on the Bascule Bridge is no longer achievable,” Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) said in a public notice issued just after 11:30 on Wednesday, May 29, 2024.

“The analysis also indicates that the remaining life of the Bascule Bridge is significantly reduced. Given these delays, the outstanding risk to return to operations and the reduced life of the Bascule Bridge, and after discussion with the City of Kingston, PSPC has decided to urgently move forward with a limited tendering process for the demolition and removal of the entire structure. We expect to be in a position to award a contract for this work as early as next week.”

Those working in the local tourism sector as much as said the same thing a day earlier, based on the information they’d gleaned from meetings of local, provincial, and federal tourism, economic development organizations and businesses – including those people who’ve been in regular communication with PSPC. Just after Kingstonist published an article sharing those insights, Mark Gerretsen, Member of Parliament (MP) for Kingston and the Islands basically confirmed the news on his social media channels.

But all of those Kingstonist spoke with yesterday said they were holding out the final decision and statement of PSPC, particularly with regard to the timeline for the processes that must happen next.

In their notice, PSPC said that demolition work to the bridge will begin “shortly after the contract is awarded.”

“We are anticipating demolition work to begin early next week. Once bids are received, PSPC will have more clarity on the schedule for demolition work and will communicate timelines to the public. In the meantime, for planning purposes, it is expected that pedestrian access could end next week. We anticipate reopening the channel for marine navigation in early July,” the federal ministry said, in stark contrast to the timeline many of those concerned with the reopening of the bridge and waterway had in mind yesterday – a document shared with Kingstonist by the Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area (BIA) noted June 10 as the reopening of the waterway to traffic.

PSPC went on in the notice to address an interim plan to restore the flow of traffic – all types – while the contract for construction of a new bridge is tendered. PSPC said they are “developing a plan” to restore vehicle, cyclist, and pedestrian access “through a temporary modular bridge solution while preparing to commence preliminary design work to advance the construction of a new replacement bridge.”

“Timelines, once known, will be communicated in a future public notice. The health and safety of the travelling public on the LaSalle Causeway is of utmost importance to the Government of Canada,” PSPC said, noting that more information “will be shared in the coming week as it becomes available,” and encouraging bridge users to “consult” PSPC’s public notices and social media channels for updates.

Kingstonist is speaking with a number of those organizations and businesses impacted by this situation today, as well as local politicians in an attempt to learn more details. Further coverage of this matter will be provided as more information becomes available.

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