PSPC confirms need for demolition of LaSalle Causeway

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

In a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon, Kingston and the Islands MP Mark Gerretsen shared that after ongoing repair efforts, it's been determined that the bridge's demolition is necessary.

"Based on the results of the laser survey, age of the bridge, and other considerations, it has been determined that demolishment of the existing bascule bridge is necessary," Gerretsen's post reads.

"Demolishment means removing the entire existing bridge structure from the navigation channel. This will require both an interim (temporary modular bridge) and long-term replacement (new moveable bridge) solution."

Late Wednesday morning, PSPC confirmed the news, and said they're moving forward with urgent demolition and replacement of the bridge.

"PSPC has decided to urgently move forward with a limited tendering process for the demolition and removal of the entire structure," the statement from PSPC reads.

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

The statement explains that the laser survey of the bridge has identified additional displacement and misalignment of key elements of the bridge, meaning an even longer repair timeline than anticipated.

The survey has also revealed that the remaining life of the bridge is "significantly reduced".

As such, PSPC will put out a call for bids on the contract, and demolition is expected to begin as soon as next week.

Newly re-permitted pedestrian access will once again halt as demolition begins, however, PSPC says a plan is being developed to restore access for pedestrians and vehicles through a temporary modular bridge.

At this time no official timelines or estimates have been given on repair work or temporary bridge solutions.

Daniel Beals, Operations Manager for St. Lawrence Cruise Lines, says based on assessments from third party construction companies, the cruise line has believed the bridge would eventually be headed for demolition since April 10 - hence why they advocated for the removal of the eastern span to allow for passing of ships.

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

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

"In just that we know now what direction it's going in."

Beals says PSPC shouldn't be getting credit for being good communicators by any means, and that they've now shared this update only because word leaked out on its own.

He said this entire process has exposed that PSPC as a whole is poorly managed, and that they've lost the trust of impacted businesses.

"I think that PSPC is a very badly managed and inefficient ministry... I think they are managed poorly and borderline incompetent," Beals said.

"We honestly feel like we've been lied to all the way through this process so it's very hard to trust anything they say."

For the cruise line and other ships, navigation is expected to resume on July 1, but Beals says any sooner will be appreciated as they will have already suffered $2 million in losses, while the Downtown Kingston BIA has estimated around $20 million lost in the community.

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

"It's too little work has been done leading up to it and too little communication still because nothing's really explained in the release," Beals said.

"And it's too late for the city to avoid losing 20 million dollars... Should we feel good about it? No, all we all we've got now is an announcement that the city won't have a bridge and we still don't have navigation either."

PSPC has not yet responded to follow up questions about the demolition, they will be shared as received.

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, YGK News