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The LaSalle Causeway Bridge in Kingston, Ontario, must be demolished

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The LaSalle Causeway Bascule Bridge must be demolished, despite assurances from the federal government that repairs to the bridge were progressing after it was damaged in late March.

“The results of the confirmatory laser survey referenced in the May 10 public notice have revealed additional and significant displacements and misalignments of certain key elements of the bridge structure. As a result, the originally estimated schedule for completion of the repair work on the bascule bridge is no longer feasible,” said a press release from Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC).

The federal government announced that demolition work will begin “shortly” after the contract is awarded. The decision is expected to be made next week.

“Once tenders are received, PSPC will have more clarity on the timetable for demolition works and will communicate timelines to the public. In the meantime, for planning purposes, it is expected that pedestrian access may be suspended next week. We anticipate the canal will be reopened to navigation in early July,” PSPC said.

The government is currently developing a plan to restore vehicle and pedestrian traffic over a temporary modular bridge, while also completing preliminary design work for the construction of a new replacement bridge.

Canadian Public Services and Procurement Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told reporters on Wednesday he expected a quick temporary solution.

“It will happen very quickly. There will be more news in the next few days and we are in contact with the city, the mayor and the local councilors who are doing a very, very good job,” said Duclos.

He says the demolition was necessary to make it easier for vehicles to cross to the other side.

“We know how important this bridge is for the community,” said Duclos.

The government-owned bridge spans the Great Cataraqui River at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, connecting motorists and pedestrians in eastern Kingston with downtown, but was damaged during routine construction on March 30. The long-term closure prevented several vessels from navigating the St. Lawrence on the Cataraqui side.

In an update earlier this month, the federal government said repair work was expected to take seven to nine weeks. The government had said work on the bascule bridge, which is part of the dam, was “underway” and “making progress.”

The closure has caused significant traffic problems in downtown Kingston and has also impacted local tourism. Cruise lines operating in the area said the bridge closure has caused delays in the departure of their ships.

The causeway reopened to pedestrians and cyclists on May 15, but remained closed to cars.