PSPC confirms need to demolish LaSalle Causeway


While the fate of the LaSalle Causeway was already known, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has now confirmed that the bridge will be demolished and replaced.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon, Mark Gerretsen, MP for Kingston and the Islands, said that after ongoing repairs, it had been determined that demolition of the bridge was necessary.

“Based on the results of the laser survey, the age of the bridge and other considerations, it was determined that demolition of the existing bascule bridge is necessary,” Gerretsen’s post states.

“During demolition, the entire existing bridge structure will be removed from the shipping channel. This will require both an interim solution (temporary modular bridge) and a long-term replacement solution (new movable bridge).”

Late Wednesday morning, PSPC confirmed the news and said it was moving forward with the urgent demolition and replacement of the bridge.

“PSPC has decided to urgently initiate a limited tender process for the demolition and removal of the entire structure,” PSPC said in a statement.

“We expect to be in a position to award the contract for this work as early as next week. Demolition work will begin shortly after the contract is awarded. We expect demolition work to begin early next week.”

The statement said laser surveys of the bridge revealed further shifts and misalignments of key bridge elements, meaning repairs will take even longer than expected.

The investigation also found that the remaining lifespan of the bridge was “significantly shortened.”

For this reason, PSPC will issue a tender for the contract and demolition is expected to begin as early as next week.

Pedestrian access, recently reopened, will again be suspended when demolition work begins, but PSPC says a plan is currently being developed to restore pedestrian and vehicular access via a temporary modular bridge.

At this time, there are no official schedules or estimates for repair work or temporary bridge solutions.

Daniel Beals, operations manager at St. Lawrence Cruise Lines, says the cruise line had been assuming since April 10 that the bridge would ultimately be demolished based on assessments by outside construction companies. For this reason, the cruise line pushed for the demolition of the eastern section of the bridge to allow ships to pass through.

Beals said it's not good news for everyone, but it's at least nice to have a clear direction.

“It's nice to have some certainty. It's not good news for everyone, but it could be good news for us,” Beals said.

“This alone tells us now which direction we are going.”

Beals says PSPC doesn't deserve any credit for its good communication and that they only shared this update because it leaked out on its own.

He said this entire process had shown that PSPC was poorly managed overall and had lost the trust of the companies concerned.

“I think PSPC is a very poorly run and inefficient department… I think they are poorly run and bordering on incompetence,” Beals said.

“We honestly feel like we've been lied to throughout the entire process, so it's very hard to believe anything they say.”

The cruise line and other ships are expected to resume sailing on July 1, but Beals said an earlier date would be welcome, as the company has already incurred losses of $2 million. The Downtown Kingston BIA estimates the community has lost about $20 million.

He says it is hard to believe that every effort has been made to minimise time wasted during this process and that what is being done now is too little, too late.

“There was too little work done up front and there is still too little communication because nothing is really explained in the press release,” Beals said.

“And it's too late for the city to avoid losing $20 million… Should we feel good about that? No, all we have now is an announcement that the city will not get a bridge and we still don't have navigation either.”

PSPC has not yet responded to further questions about the demolition. These will be forwarded as they are received.

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, YGK News