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Federal government on track to demolish Alexandra Bridge, as advocates push to preserve it



Federal government on track to demolish Alexandra Bridge, as advocates push to preserve it

The 123-year-old Alexandra Bridge is scheduled to be torn down within the decade and be completely replaced with a new one.

The bridge is currently closed to all vehicular traffic for maintenance, and only open for cyclists and pedestrians.

David Jeanes, spokesperson for Transport Action and Heritage Ottawa, says the coalition is pushing for the Alexendra Bridge to be primarily used for active transportation and would rather see the bridge rehabilitated not torn down.

“Our understanding is that there will be three choices that the public will be given, but the fourth choice that we asked for which was to repair the bridge, will not be on the table,” said Jeanes.

The federal government is in the planning stages of a total redesign of the Alexandra Bridge. Demolition is expected sometime in 2028, with a new bridge expected to be put up in its place by 2032.

Heritage Ottawa believes repairing the current bridge is the better option.

“Our feeling is that the cost of rehabilitating this bridge, particularly just for pedestrians and bicycles and maybe a tramway streetcar, is much, much less than the cost of demolition and building a completely new bridge,” added Jeanes.

The federal government says the aging structure has reached the end of its life.

Stefan Dery, director general for Management of Asset Infrastructure at Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) says “(repairing) and retaining the Alexandra Bridge is simply not a feasible option.”

There is major erosion and corrosion on the bridge, mainly cased by road salt and rust, causing it to crack in places or start to bend or become deformed, according to Paul Lebrun, PSPC chief engineer.

“The analysis of the various scenarios that we looked at whether it was replacing the bridge or trying to replace it are clear – there are no solutions to maintain the bridge,” he said.

“The corrosion has set in, and we can’t get into to stop it.”

The Alexandra Bridge is one of six interprovincial crossings in the National Capital Region. It’s jointly managed by the PSPC, the National Capital Commission (NCC), and the City of Ottawa. Before it was closed for maintenance in the fall of 2023, it carried about 40 per cent of all pedestrian traffic between Gatineau and Ottawa, and only nine per cent of vehicles travelling between Quebec and Ontario used the bridge.

The government notes, as Ottawa continues to grow, replacing the bridge is important to expand the city’s current infrastructure because roadways are already at capacity.

“Given the growing population in the National Capital Region is projected to reach two million by 2045 and three million by 2080, maintaining and enhancing our transportation infrastructure is more critical than ever,” said Dery.

Plans for the new bridge include dedicated lanes for bikes, pedestrians, and cars.

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