We would like to advise you that following regular inspections carried out on the girder requiring reinforcement, where a significant crack was detected on Tuesday, November 12, we have decided that a new repair strategy is required.
The state of the girder has changed over the last few days, enough so that the repair strategy and method recommended at the beginning of the situation is no longer applicable. The Champlain Bridge remains safe for all motorists thanks to the measures that were quickly implemented, notably those involving the closure of two traffic lanes above the girder. All other girders on the span are behaving well and do not show any signs of weakness.
Traffic will be reduced to two lanes per direction during the next few days. The Corporation will hold a priority meeting with its partners today to implement new mitigation measures to deal with this situation and analyze the configuration of the lanes on the bridge for the rush hours.
While this work is carried out, buses will have priority access to the bridge via previously planned reserved lanes on the Montreal side as well as the South Shore side. Access to the bridge will therefore be much easier for public transit users. However, the reserved lane will not be able to be implemented on the bridge itself.
Once again, we strongly suggest using buses, commuter trains, the metro’s yellow line, and carpooling during this period. The other South Shore bridges will be unable to compensate for these lane closures; as a result, all South Shore motorists, regardless of which bridge they use, are encouraged to favour public transit in order to distribute traffic across all bridges.
We ask that all road users and the media participate in encouraging public transit and carpooling.
In order for traffic to resume as normal on the entire bridge, the Support Beam operation has been launched.
The Support Beam operation was developed over the past few years in order to respond in the event that a Champlain Bridge girder could not be secured by isolated reinforcement measures.
Since 2009, two robust support systems have been designed, built and stored in the event of such a possibility.
The first step consists of transporting to the bridge approaches the five sections of the massive steel beam, which until now has been stored near the Jacques Cartier Bridge. This beam will be assembled near the bridge and then moved using a long-load dolly onto the bridge, where two cranes will pick it up and place it just above the girder that requires reinforcement.
The support beam will then be installed above the existing girder across its entire length and attached at the piers. Enormous steel rods anchored to the support beam will be lowered beneath the girder in order to fully support it. Once this girder has been secured, we will begin the process of reopening the traffic lanes that are currently closed.
It should be noted that this support beam will result in the width of the open lanes being reduced. This temporary situation will only last until the second phase of the operation. The objective is to stabilize the situation as quickly as possible, secure the girder, and then launch phase 2 once traffic has been re-established.
Phase 2 will consist of installing steel modular grating from below, which will be attached to the span’s two pillars. This grating will also support the girder across its entire length, like the support beam installed in the first phase.
Installation of the permanent support (modular grating) will begin in spring 2014 due to the difficulties of carrying out this operation in winter conditions. Once this second phase is completed, the support beam will be removed and the full lane width will be re-established on the bridge.
The Corporation is carefully planning this major work, in order to complete the first step of the operation in mid-December, as announced, and to open the six lanes to traffic as soon as possible.
The beam will be installed during an intensive BLITZ of two days (ideally on weekend), the date of which remains to be confirmed. During this period, a single lane will be open on the Champlain Bridge in each direction.
To avoid major delays, road users will be encouraged to avoid the Champlain Bridge during this period and use the other South Shore bridges.
We invite you to follow this operation on this blog.