Champlain Bridge Sector
Everything there is to know about expansion joints
Replacing joints is necessary to avoid breakage on the road that would make it unsafe for users. Moreover, this work is necessary to prevent water from infiltrating between the spans and damaging the bridge’s structural components.
What role do expansion joints play?
The bridge spans are independent of one another. Expansion joints bridge the gap between two spans, preventing water from infiltrating between the spans (above the piers). These gaps vary with thermal expansion (the gaps are larger in winter and smaller in summer) and deformities in each of the spans adjacent to a joint.
They also allow users to travel safely by eliminating discontinuity in the road. Their replacement is part of the Champlain Bridge’s regular maintenance program.
How are expansion joints installed?
The joints are transported by truck from the manufacturing plant in Laval to the bridge. Some 20 people are on site to help install a joint (demolition, formwork, joint installation, concreting, membrane, paving) over the course of the weekend. During the spring weekend blitzes, up to two half-joints will be replaced and another expansion join will be repaired in one direction. The work will be carried out by one contractor on different sections of the bridge.
The joints will be installed between the two extremities of adjacent spans. They are perpendicular to the road and spaced approximately 50 m apart. The joints are approximately 24 m long in four parts and weigh a total of 8,566 lbs.
Why are so many restrictions and closures necessary?
When a joint is removed, the lanes are no longer passable, which is why the bridge has to be closed in one direction. During that period, the lanes are needed to accommodate the material, equipment and workers involved in this delicate operation. Necessary measures are taken to ensure the safety of users travelling on the bridge and the teams of workers.
Even though the joints are assembled prior to the blitz, the demolition, installation and finishing work, as well as operations related to lane closures, require a full weekend of work. Several teams work simultaneously to ensure the replacement of up to two half-joints over the course of two days.
The Corporation has planned weekend blitzes (from Friday at 10:00 p.m. to Monday at 5:00 a.m.) in order to limit the impact on traffic. The blitzes are coordinated with contractors and partners in an effort to combine the work whenever possible.
Are other major restrictions planned prior to the opening of the new Champlain Bridge?
Since the Champlain Bridge has reached the end of its useful life, major work is required prior to the opening of the new bridge in order to ensure safe passage for users.