New Samuel De Champlain Bridge opens in Montreal

09 July 2019 2 min. read

The modern replacement for the aging Champlain Bridge in Montreal, which was opened to two-way traffic earlier this month, was designed with an eye towards longevity. Arup provided technical and procurement advice to Infrastructure Canada on the new bridge, which has a projected useful life of 125 years, designed by architects Dissing+Weitling and Provencher Roy & Associates.

The previous Champlain Bridge, which likewise connected the Island of Montreal with the city’s South Shore suburbs, was built in 1962 and failed to reach 60 years of use. The harsh Montreal weather and de-icing salt degraded the bridge, necessitating a replacement. Demolition is set to begin this year, and will take four years, at a projected cost of $400 million.

100 meters downstream is the new Champlain Bridge, which was begun in 2015 and was inaugurated on June 28. The minimalist-design bridge, constructed of high-performance concrete and stainless steel, is projected to last twice as long as the previous one. The Champlain crossing over the St. Lawrence is among the most important pieces of bridge infrastructure in Canada, with the previous incarnation seeing 50 million crossings per year, and holding the distinction of being the busiest bridge in the country.

The new bridge was completed six months behind schedule, with delays adding $235 million to the $4.2-billion cost of the massive piece of infrastructure, according to CBC News. 

Design for the bridge came together in 2013, with engineering consultancy Arup the chosen technical advisor. The bridge has a 160-meter tall tower shaped like a tuning fork, with four lanes for road traffic in each direction, including one lane in each direction reserved for public transit. The new Champlain Bridge also incorporates a multi-use path for cyclists and pedestrians, and a viewing platform underneath the bridge.

"Sustainable development and focusing on the project outcomes are fundamental to Arup's comprehensive total quality approach. We listened to all government and community stakeholders to understand their needs and concerns," Douglas Balmer, Samuel De Champlain Bridge project director and associate principal at Arup, said. "Our primary goals were to bring the bridge to life in a way that will meet the needs of the city and be embraced by its residents. We followed the Government of Canada's mandate to create a national icon that enhances a sense of place and civic pride."

Arup was instrumental in delivering the project from initial conception through to procurement, final design, and construction. The bridge will be operated as a public-private partnership between the Government of Canada and Signature on the Saint Lawrence Group, a consortium mainly composed of SNC-Lavalin, ACS Infrastructure, and Dragados Canada.  

"Our global expertise and deep bench of services allow us to help stakeholders understand each step involved in delivering a major infrastructure project,” Jo Balmer, Samuel De Champlain Bridge project manager and associate at Arup, said. “In this case, we relied on Arup's substantial infrastructure experience with complex bridge projects such as New York State's Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, Øresund Bridge between Copenhagen and Sweden, and Scotland's Queensferry Crossing."