Whether the Alexandra Bridge is replaced or significantly rebuilt, Gatineau MP Steve MacKinnon says residents in the National Capital Region should prepare to live without it for some time.
The bridge, which opened in 1901, carries nine per cent of the Ottawa-Gatineau vehicle traffic and a third of the pedestrian and cyclists crossing the Ottawa River between the cities.
It is up for some significant lane closures from 2019 to 2022, but MacKinnon said that could only be the start.
MacKinnon is also the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, the department which owns the bridge. He said the department is still considering whether the bridge needs a major overhaul or a complete replacement.
"It is six of one and half of a dozen of the other," he said. "A replacement or a refit of the bridge has the same effect. That bridge will be withdrawn from service for a period of time."
He said the upcoming work is about keeping the structure safe in the meantime, but within ten years it will need to be rebuilt or replaced.
New bridge needed
MacKinnon also said he is continuing to advocate for another span in the region to handle the increased traffic as the populations of both Ottawa and Gatineau grow.
"Even before losing the Alexandria Bridge, we require a sixth and possibly a seventh bridge, that is mere mathematics and that decision will have to be taken in concert with our partners in the region."
Ottawa city Coun. Mathieu Fleury said he would like to see the government engage in broader consultation about the replacement of the bridge.
He said he also wants to know where the traffic will go when the Alexandra is closed.
"When you see a closure like that you assume that an alternative corridor would be identified," he said.
He said both the City of Ottawa and City of Gatineau have identified the once proposed Kettle Island Bridge near the Rockcliffe Airport as an important link and he would like to see the federal government commit to it.
Fleury added later he would also welcome a tunnel to divert truck traffic from downtown Ottawa.