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MP calls for demolition of damaged LaSalle Causeway Bridge

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A century-old bascule bridge that forms part of the LaSalle Causeway in Kingston must be demolished, according to a member of parliament for the region.

In a social media post on Tuesday evening, Kingston and the Islands MP Mark Gerretsen said a laser survey of the bridge arch, which was damaged on March 30 and has been closed to vehicles since then, had shown it would need to be scrapped.

“Demolition means removing the entire existing bridge structure from the shipping channel,” he wrote, adding that the age of the bridge was another factor considered in the decision.

“This requires both an interim solution (temporary modular bridge) and a long-term replacement (new movable bridge).”

The federal ministry of transportation and digital infrastructure (Public Services and Procurement Canada, PSPC), which is responsible for the dam, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Spokesman Jeremy Link said in an email that PSPC intends to issue a public notice on Wednesday, but did not elaborate on what it would be about.

In his post, Gerretsen said he was providing the public with information before the official release of PSPC.

He added that the department would issue two tenders: one for demolition of the bridge and another for a replacement.

The “singing bridge”

The causeway is an important link between downtown Kingston and the city's eastern suburbs. About 23,000 vehicles cross it every day.

Part of the crossing is a bascule bridge that uses a heavy counterweight to lift boats and allow them to pass through. According to the PSPC, a steel beam that supports the weight was damaged during repair work.

Some in the city called it the “singing” or “humming” bridge because of the sound it makes when vehicles drive over it.

In the comments under his Facebook post, Gerretsen said he was trying to imagine “my daily drive home without” that noise.

The LaSalle Causeway in Kingston has been closed to all traffic since March 30 after a section that raises the counterweight to allow boats to pass through was damaged.The LaSalle Causeway in Kingston has been closed to all traffic since March 30 after a section that raises the counterweight to allow boats to pass through was damaged.

The LaSalle Causeway in Kingston has been closed to all traffic since March 30 after a section that raises the counterweight to allow boats to pass through was damaged.

The dam has been closed to vehicle traffic since March 30 after a section that raises the counterweight to allow boats through was damaged. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Residents have been waiting for weeks for news, wondering what will become of the bridge while enduring traffic congestion at other crossings in the city, especially during rush hours.

Tour boat companies whose boats are stuck on the wrong side of the causeway are pressing the government for solutions. One operator previously told CBC he was forced to cancel cruises, costing him more than $350,000.

On May 9, 2024, workers could be seen examining parts of the LaSalle Causeway in Kingston, Ontario.                     On May 9, 2024, workers could be seen examining parts of the LaSalle Causeway in Kingston, Ontario.

On May 9, 2024, workers could be seen examining parts of the LaSalle Causeway in Kingston, Ontario.

Workers examine parts of the LaSalle Causeway in Kingston on May 9, 2024. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

On May 15, the dam was reopened to pedestrians, the first traffic to cross it in over a month.

PSPC said at the time that the repairs would be carried out in phases and that the timeframe would be seven to nine weeks, barring any unforeseen problems.

The department had indicated that demolishing the bridge was one of the options it was considering, but said that would take about 12 to 14 weeks, plus another four to six weeks in November to construct a temporary bridge for road traffic after the end of the shipping season.