Champlain Bridge, Montreal

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Champlain Bridge

pont Champlain  (French)
Pont Champlain - 2010-10.jpg
Coordinates45°28′07″N 73°31′03″W / 45.46861°N 73.51750°W / 45.46861; -73.51750Coordinates: 45°28′07″N 73°31′03″W / 45.46861°N 73.51750°W / 45.46861; -73.51750
CarriesAutoroute 10, 15, 20
CrossesSt. Lawrence River and
Saint Lawrence Seaway
LocaleBrossard and Montreal, Quebec, Canada
OwnerThe Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc.
Maintained byThe Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc.
DesignSteel truss Cantilever bridge
MaterialSteel, Concrete
Total length3,440 m (11,286 ft)
7,412 m (24,318 ft) (including approaches)[1]
Longest span215.5 m (707.02 ft)[1]
Clearance below36.6 m (120 ft) at mid-span[1]
No. of lanes6
DesignerPhilip Louis Pratley
Henry Hugh Lewis Pratley
Engineering design byPhilippe Ewart
Lalonde and Valois
Constructed byAtlas Construction Company Limited
McNamara (Quebec) Limited
The Key Construction Inc.
Deschamps & Bélanger Limitée
Dominion Bridge Company
Construction start1957
Construction costC$35 million
C$52 million (including approaches and Bonaventure Expressway)
OpenedJune 28, 1962 (1962-06-28)
Daily traffic159,000[2]
TollCollected until 1990
Champlain Bridge, Montreal is located in Montreal
Champlain Bridge, Montreal
Location on a map of Montreal

The Champlain Bridge (French: Pont Champlain) is a steel truss cantilever bridge with approach viaducts constructed of prestressed concrete beams supporting a prestressed concrete deck paved with asphalt. The bridge crosses the Saint Lawrence River and Saint Lawrence Seaway, connecting the Montreal boroughs of Verdun and Le Sud-Ouest to Brossard on the South Shore.

The bridge, with approaches, is approximately 6 km (3.7 mi) long. When the project began, it was designated as the "Nuns' Island Bridge" because it crosses over Nuns' Island. In 1958, it was officially named the Champlain Bridge in honour of the explorer Samuel de Champlain, who founded Quebec City in 1608. The bridge was opened on June 28, 1962.[3]

Together with the Jacques Cartier Bridge, it is administered by the Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated (JCCBI), a Canadian Crown Corporation which reports to Infrastructure Canada. Since December 21, 1978, JCCBI has been responsible for the management, maintenance and monitoring of the Champlain Bridge.[4]

The bridge sees about 50 million crossings per year, of which 200,000 are buses. On an average weekday, 66% of users are commuters. It is one of the busiest single-span bridges in Canada.[5]

The concrete structure has been degraded by the use of de-icing salt, requiring expensive mitigation. In 2015, construction began on a replacement bridge designed to handle higher volumes of traffic.[5] Under construction a hundred metres downstream from the original bridge, the new Samuel de Champlain Bridge should be completed in 2019.[3]


The Champlain Bridge project was undertaken in 1955 and construction proceeded between 1957 and 1962. The bridge carries six lanes of vehicle traffic; three in each direction. During rush hour one lane of those heading off the island in the morning, and onto the island in the evening, is used as a reserved bus lane for buses to be able to head in the opposite direction. The bridge was opened to traffic in stages as the approaches were completed between June 1962 and September 1964. It was subsequently connected to the Bonaventure Expressway, which is part of the north approach to the bridge. The expressway was opened to traffic on April 21, 1967. It is one of North America's busiest highways with almost 59 million crossings annually.

  • Total length of crossing complex: 14.5 km (9 mi)
  • Total bridge length including approaches: 7,412 m (24,318 ft)
    • Length: abutment to abutment: 3,440 m (11,290 ft)
    • Link of viaduct to Section 1: 2,195 m (7,201 ft)
    • Center main cantilevered span: 215 m (705 ft)
    • Wellington Street approach: 365 m (1,198 ft)
  • Bonaventure Expressway: 4,573 m (15,003 ft)

Just upstream from the bridge there is an ice boom, the Champlain Bridge Ice Control Structure.[6]

Construction history[edit]

View from the east side of the Saint Lawrence River, July 2011
The upstream ice control structure.

On August 17, 1955, federal Transport Minister George Marler first announced the planned construction of a new bridge connecting Montreal to the South Shore via Nun's Island. The city's existing bridges (Victoria, Jacques Cartier and Honoré Mercier) had become inadequate to support the amount of traffic that carried residents from the growing South Shore suburbs into Montréal.

The National Harbours Board was placed in charge of the project. Through several lengthy meetings and consultations in the fall of 1955, the location for the bridge and its approaches were selected. Originally, the plan had been to build the bridge with only 4 lanes, with room for further expansion to 6 lanes. During the design phase, however, it was decided to go with an initial 6-lane design immediately.

The bridge was opened on June 28, 1962 at 4 p.m. At the time, the bridge had only one approach from Montreal, via Wellington Street. The section of the bridge that includes the approaches to and from Atwater Street and La Vérendrye Boulevard were opened two years later, on December 7, 1964.

In 1967, the final approach to the bridge on the Montréal side was completed when the Bonaventure Expressway was opened to traffic.[7]

A $0.25 toll ($0.08 if paid with tokens) was charged to finance the $35 million cost of the Champlain Bridge. The toll was collected until 1990, when the Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated (JCCBI), which took over jurisdiction of the bridge a dozen years earlier, removed the toll plaza.[8]

Structural health[edit]

Montreal's climate subjects the Champlain Bridge to wintry cold, snowfall, and windy conditions, as well as contrasting hot and humid summer conditions, all of which accelerate damage to the bridge. Because of the potential danger from ice accumulation during winter, the bridge has been salted every season for decades. But salt attacks both the concrete and steel rebar used in girders, pylons, and other parts. The problems associated with the design and maintenance of the Champlain Bridge have thus advanced the useful life of several structural components. The design and construction of the structure prevent the isolation of outdated elements and replace them with new ones, as can be done on other structures. Given the state of advanced deterioration of the bridge, it is constantly monitored by 300 sensors.

To remain in place until its replacement, several reinforcement measures and rehabilitation programs have been deployed over time by JCCBI.

In 1992, the concrete deck of the cantilever metal part was replaced by an orthotropic steel deck. Gutters to channel the corrosive runoff to the river appeared in 1994. The pressure exerted by the reinforced beams on the ends of the trimmers then required the reinforcement of the latter by steel rods under tension.

In 2009, the Government of Canada announced in its 2009 Economic Action Plan that it would be allocating $212 million to renew the bridge. And in March 2011, the Government of Canada announced $158 million would be spent on a major repair and maintenance program as concerns mount it is at risk of collapse. Montreal's La Presse newspaper cited two leaked engineering reports prepared for a federal bridge agency that suggest sections of the structure are in a severe state of deterioration that will progress exponentially. The report concludes that a partial or complete collapse of the span should not be ruled out.[9]

Since 2009, JCCBI has been conducting a major repair program to extend the usefulness of the Champlain Bridge while ensuring the safety of users. The installation of sensors helps monitor the structure's behaviour day and night. This repair program is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

In 2010, JCCBI — the Federal agency that oversees the structure — retained international engineering firm Delcan to carry out an expert study of the bridge's structural health. The firm returned a report entitled, "The Future of the Champlain Bridge Crossing". In the Executive Summary, the bridge was said to be "functionally deficient" for both current and long-term traffic demands, and showing "significant deterioration".[10] One finding suggested that the Champlain Bridge is in "very much poorer condition than would be typical" for comparable bridges. Delcan concluded that the bridge had "many deficiencies" and, even in light of the methodical inspection and rehabilitation of the structure undertaken by its owners, that continued operation "entails some risks that cannot altogether be quantified".

The CBC Television and Télévision de Radio-Canada, among other news agencies, have published segments highlighting concerns over conditions of surface roads in Montreal and the Champlain Bridge in particular.

In November 2013, a crack was discovered in a critical part of the superstructure. One lane was closed immediately and emergency repair plans were put in place. During preparation, the crack enlarged and a second lane was closed.[11]

On November 29, 2013, a temporary external beam of 75 tons, named "super-beam" by the media, was urgently installed to reinforce the structure. In June 2014, JCCBI replaced the super-beam with first modular truss that was designed and manufactured in Quebec.

As part of a 2014–2017 Edge girder reinforcement program, 94 modular trusses and six shoring systems were installed to stabilize the condition of the bridge girders.[3]

Replacement bridge[edit]


In September 2007, the newspaper, Le Journal de Montréal, published a story about federal government plans to build a new 10-lane span next to Champlain Bridge, rather than face the increasing maintenance cost of the aging structure.[12] Federal minister Lawrence Cannon confirmed that his ministry was seriously considering the prospect of a new bridge.[13]

One month later, Novaroute, a private firm, revealed a plan to construct a two-story tunnel bridge under the river. It would contain two levels, one for buses and trains and another for all other vehicles except tractor-trailers. The tunnel would be a public-private partnership taking five years to complete, and would collect tolls.[14]

In August 2008, Transport Canada, the federal ministry of transportation, confirmed that studies and scenarios were ordered to build a new bridge within 10 or 15 years. The new structure would likely be 8 to 10 lanes wide and include a light rail train to connect the South Shore to Montreal.[15][16]

In October 2011, Denis Lebel announced that the federal government would build a replacement bridge, in a plan that would take about 10 years.[17][18] In December 2013, he announced that the replacement bridge would be finished by 2018.[19]

In November 2014, it was reported that the bridge would be named the Maurice Richard Bridge in honour of the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey player,[20] but soon afterwards the plan was dropped due to a request from his family.[21]

A study had estimated that a per-trip toll of $2.60 to $3.90 until 2030 would be required to break even on the bridge's construction,[22] however in the 2015 federal election campaign, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau promised that the new bridge would be toll-free and this was confirmed following his election as prime minister.

The rapid development plan did not leave time for an international design competition, and designer Poul Ove Jensen was selected. In April 2015, the federal government selected the JV consortium: Signature on the St. Lawrence Group to build the new bridge. The consortium mainly includes: SNC-Lavalin, ACS Infrastructure, and Dragados Canada. T.Y. Lin International is serving as the Lead Designer for the landmark, cable-stayed replacement bridge.[23]

In December 2018, federal officials announced that the new bridge would be named the Samuel de Champlain Bridge, invoking the full name of the older bridge's namesake.[24]


Construction began in June 2015, with the new bridge expected to open in 2019.[25]

Serving as a gateway into the City of Montreal, the 3.4-kilometre (2.1 mi) long Samuel-de-Champlain Bridge will be an asymmetric cable-stayed bridge with a 168-metre (551 ft) high concrete tower and stay cables in a harp arrangement. The signature bridge will include a two-lane rail corridor for the Réseau express métropolitain, a six lane corridor for vehicles, and a multi-use corridor for cyclists and pedestrians. Components of the $4 billion project include:

The existing bridge will be demolished, along with the Champlain Bridge Ice Control Structure, once the new bridge is complete.

Deconstruction and recycling[edit]

The Champlain Bridge will remain open until the new bridge is commissioned. In the winter of 2017, JCCBI completed a pre-feasibility study on the deconstruction of the Champlain Bridge to enable the government to make informed decisions.


The Champlain Bridge is managed by a federal Crown corporation, The Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated (JCCBI). It also manages the Jacques Cartier Bridge, the Champlain Bridge Ice Control Structure, the Île des Sœurs Bypass Bridge, the federal sections of Bonaventure Expressway and the Honoré Mercier Bridge, as well as the Melocheville Tunnel.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Champlain Bridge: Technical Data". Bridges & Structures. The Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated. Archived from the original on December 11, 2013. Retrieved December 6, 2013.
  2. ^ Sources disagree on the actual figure:
  3. ^ a b c "Champlain Bridge Sector ⋆ PJCCI". PJCCI. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  4. ^ a b "About ⋆ PJCCI". PJCCI. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  5. ^ a b "New Champlain Bridge - Frequently Asked Questions". Infrastructure Canada. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  6. ^ "Technical Data Sheet - Champlain Bridge Sector" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-06-26.
  7. ^ "The Champlain Bridge and the Bonaventure Expressway" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2008-07-01.
  8. ^ "The Champlain Bridge:Historic overview". Retrieved 2009-04-29.
  9. ^ "Montreal bridge gets $158M in repair funds". CBC News. 2011-03-18. Retrieved 2011-03-18.
  10. ^ Delcan, Inc (2011-03-28). "Future of the Champlain Bridge Crossing" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-23. Retrieved 2011-04-11.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-12-02. Retrieved 2013-11-24.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Un super-pont de huit ou dix voies?" (in French). 2007-09-20. Archived from the original on 2009-01-31. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
  13. ^ "Officials mull replacing Montréal's Champlain Bridge". The Gazette. 2008-08-18. Archived from the original on 2012-11-05. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
  14. ^ "Un nouveau tunnel sous le fleuve?" (in French). LCN. Retrieved 2008-07-01.
  15. ^ "Un pont tout neuf" (in French). Le journal de Montréal. August 18, 2008. Archived from the original on December 5, 2008. Retrieved November 5, 2008.
  16. ^ "Quebec welcomes talk of a new Champlain bridge". CBC. 2008-08-19. Retrieved 2008-11-05.
  17. ^ "Ottawa announces 10-year plan to replace Montreal's Champlain Bridge". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. 2011-10-05.
  18. ^ Minister Lebel begins consultations with industry stakeholders on the new bridge over the St. Lawrence - Transport Canada Archived November 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  19. ^ "New Champlain Bridge will be built by 2018, Lebel says". Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  20. ^ Peggy Curran (November 4, 2014). "Let's cross the Maurice Richard Bridge when we come to it". Montreal Gazette.
  21. ^ Associated Press (November 6, 2014). "Richard's name dropped from bridge consideration". Yahoo! Sports.
  22. ^ Foster, James (2015-12-02). "New Champlain Bridge will be toll free". CJAD.
  23. ^ "New Champlain Bridge Corridor Project". Road-Traffic Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  24. ^ "Le nom du nouveau pont Champlain maintenant connu". Journal de Montreal. Retrieved December 19, 2018.
  25. ^ The canadian press. "New Champlain Bridge to be built by SNC-Lavalin consortium". CBS News. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  26. ^ "New Champlain Bridge Project Website". Retrieved November 8, 2017.

External links[edit]