Marchand Bridge repairs include complete structural realignment

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Allyson Beauregard

CAMPBELL’S BAY – The regular Council of Mayors meeting held
August 25 included a presentation

Allyson Beauregard

CAMPBELL’S BAY – The regular Council of Mayors meeting held
August 25 included a presentation
from Normand Chevalier, Ministry of Transports Quebec (MTQ) Director, and Andre Ntela, engineer responsible for the Marchand bridge project, regarding the bridge’s ongoing closure, work already done, work needed in the future, and its re-opening.
Chavalier began by saying the bridge is important to the MTQ as a heritage  monument and it is their intention to complete the project in a reasonable time frame. He went on to explain that given the complexity of the work to be
done and its estimated price tag, moving
forward is not easy. “When the first
estimate was done on the bridge, the price tag was between $500,000 to $800,000. Recent estimates have said it will cost $6-8 million to repair. You can’t manage this project in the same way as a $500,000 one because it requires a
completely different approach.” 
Ntela described the work done on
the bridge since 2011, representing a $563,000 investment. “The entire deck was replaced and repairs were made to the structural beams,” he said, indicating the MTQ then noticed the bridge was slowly sinking, dropping between 3 and 13 millimetres in different locations. As an “emergency measure”, the bridge was closed in May 2014 and two temporary piers were constructed to stabilize the bridge. Monthly surveys indicate no
further movement.
Ntela then explained the three
options the MTQ is facing: demolishing or keeping the bridge closed, which all mayors said was not an option; a partial
renovation including reinforcing the structure, re-doing the roof and
sideboards, and fixing the unevenness of the floor; or a complete revitalization which would include all of the second option renovations as well as a complete structural realignment to address the bridge’s lateral shifting. “We must respect laws about the materials used since the bridge is a piece of heritage; specialized engineers must be hired to do the work,” added Ntela, explaining the MTQ has already sought out advice from experts in the United States.
“If you are going to do it, you should do it well,” said Ile-du-Grand-Calumet Mayor, Irene Nadeau, indicating a
complete revitalization would be best. “It was repaired in 2011, but if it had been done properly then it would’ve cost less because the price of materials has
gone up; and, it would be open now,”
she continued.
Raymond Durocher, MRC Pontiac Warden and Mayor of Fort-Coulonge, reinforced the point: “Do it right the first time to avoid further renovations and closures down the road. This bridge has a major impact on tourism in
the area.”
Rapides-des-Joachims Mayor Jim Gibson asked if the bridge will be torn down and re-built if option three is chosen. “The repair would be done section by section without demolishing the structure,” said Ntela.
Once the analysis of
the bridge is complete,
preliminary plans will be drawn. If the plans are accepted by a provincial decision committee,
concrete plans will then be drafted. After once again receiving approval from the provincial committee,
a call to tender can then
be issued. The MTQ
representatives said they hope to have the plans completed and the call to tender issued by next year. According to Durocher, the MRC and Council of Mayors will be pushing for the bridge’s re-opening for 2017. “The preparation is technical and ongoing,” added Chevalier.
Chevalier asked the Council if they are open to having the bridge reopened to only cyclists and
pedestrians rather than renovating it to a 5-ton capacity for vehicles;
the proposition was
unanimously rejected.
Mathieu Ravignat, Pontiac MP, asked if the bridge could be re-opened to only smaller vehicles under a specific weight.
“At the time the temporary piers were installed, the bridge couldn’t even
support itself and we
can’t really say how much weight it can currently hold. A 5-ton capacity is
the MTQ’s minimum, its
5-ton or nothing; we can’t take the chance,” said Ntela and Chevalier.
“The bridge must
be re-opened in 2017
and we will continue to
pressure,” concluded Durocher.