The Champlain Bridge: Reinforced, monitored, stable and safe

10 September 2018

With nearly 60 million vehicles crossing it every year, the Champlain Bridge is Montreal’s main gateway and plays a leading role in Canada’s economy. This structure has garnered a lot of interest in particular since the “super beam” was installed in November 2013. Over the past five years, the Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated (JCCBI) has deployed an ambitious program to reinforce and monitor the structure and its behaviour. Today, the Champlain Bridge is stable and safe.


Inaugurated in 1962, the Champlain Bridge began to prematurely degrade from corrosion due to the lack of an adequate drainage system and because the harmful impact of de-icing salts was not known at the time. The bridge components with the most deterioration are the girders on each side of the bridge. JCCBI’s teams therefore designed the first custom modular truss manufactured in Quebec as an innovative solution to reinforce the bridge’s 100 edge girders.


Another program was also developed to add external supports to all of the pier caps of the foundation units. So far, 35 of the 39 pier caps have been reinforced, and the 4 remaining pier caps will be reinforced by the end of September. These reinforcement systems are also manufactured in Quebec. Since each pier cap is unique, this creates challenges when it comes to component tensioning; for example, adjustments may be needed to meet the requirements of the drawings and specifications. Since the reinforcement system is being installed from barges on the water, the work goes unnoticed by users as they cross the Champlain Bridge. Approximately 50 people are involved in this project, from the design and installation to the manufacture and delivery over a timeframe of about 10 weeks.


The Champlain Bridge is monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week thanks to 345 sensors installed on the structure that measure the impact of the reinforcement systems on various components. If the sensors detect any unusual behaviour, JCCBI’s teams can react very quickly. “Since we deployed our program to reinforce the girders and pier caps, the sensors that are continually monitoring the structure’s behaviour have shown that the Champlain Bridge is as stable as ever,” says Glen P. Carlin, Engineer and JCCBI’s Chief Executive Officer. “On top of these reinforcement and monitoring measures, we conduct quarterly inspections of the Champlain Bridge, which we are diligently managing,” he adds.


JCCBI has deployed exceptional monitoring and maintenance measures to ensure everyone can safely cross Canada’s busiest bridge until the structure is decommissioned.