Some plans for new bridge ruffle feathers
Though reaction is generally very positive to Sunday's announcement that the replacement for the Champlain Bridge will be built three years ahead of schedule, some are disappointed over some of the plans.
The bridge will be delivered by 2018, federal Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel announced Sunday, news that was met with positive reaction by both the Quebec government and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre.
Some, however, were not pleased with the decision to hand-pick Danish designer Poul Ove Jensen.
“Mr.Jensen has worked on some of the world's major bridge projects,” said Lebel.
Among Jensen’s designs is the Oresund Bridge, connecting Sweden and Denmark.
More than twice the length of the Champlain Bridge, and much like its planned replacement, the Oresund has an integrated light rail system; the train runs under the car and truck traffic on a second deck.
In a brief phone conversation with CTV Montreal’s Derek Conlon, Jensen said he he only found out Sunday that he'd been officially chosen as the designer for the replacement bridge. He would not speak about any of his designs and couldn't say when he'd be arriving in Montreal.
What’s disappointing to Quebec’s Order of Architects is that the proposed international design competition is being eliminated to shave time off the original schedule.
“There could have been an international competition and for the selection of the winning team one of the criteria could have been to provide a project, a process for the construction to make it shorter in time,” said Nathalie Dion, president of the order.
Ottawa's continued insistence that the new bridge have tolls has also irked some.
“That is a non-starter for us. It will de-structure the whole flux of transit towards the south shore but this is a debate that's going to go on,” said Minister for Montreal Jean-Francois Lisee.
Coderre, however, is hopeful Ottawa will change its mind.
“We can do a lot of things in politics like negotiating and discussing among each other,” he said.
What's more important, said McGill professor of civil engineering Saeed Mirza, is ensuring the building mistakes of the past are not repeated.
“Our engineers still design a structure to build for the lowest first cost. We don't care about how it will be maintained,” he said, adding that maintenance must be designed to last as long as the new bridge – a proposed 100 years.
“My belief is if you want to build something, you should be able to maintain it over the entire service life, otherwise do not build it,” he said.
Construction starts early in spring 2014, when suppliers are chosen and materials will be bought.