Iconic Seaway Bridge over Cornwall being demolished bit by bit
Published Thursday, June 11, 2015 5:16PM EDT
An iconic symbol in the city of Cornwall is disappearing piece by piece. The Seaway International Bridge is being dismantled in a two year project that will change the face of the city. The bridge runs 1.6 kilometres between Cornwall and Cornwall Island. A new low-level bridge has been built beside it while the high-level bridge comes down. The residents of the seaway city have a front row seat on an engineering feat.
For 77 years, Bob Earle has lived in his house in Cornwall. The last 60 years or so, he has stared at a massive concrete pillar holding up the Seaway International Bridge.
‘It’s been an eyesore since the day it was built,’ says Earle, as he picks weeds from his front lawn, in the shadow of the bridge.
That shadow, though, is slowly fading. Construction crews are working in sections of the Seaway Bridge, cutting through the steel superstructure and slowly maneuvering forty to fifty ton chunks to the ground. At the same time another crew is demolishing the concrete piers.
Robert Goulet is with Morrison, Hershfield, the engineering company which is overseeing the $15 million dollar demolition.
‘It had reached pretty well the end of its service life,’ Goulet says of the high-level bridge. ‘When they looked at options of doing rehabilitation or building new, it made more sense to build new.’
The most challenging part of the demolition will be the arch span in the centre of the bridge because of its height and the fact it is over water. It will take four weeks to prep that portion of the bridge and one day to bring down
The Seaway International Bridge first opened in 1962, built high in the anticipation of the federal government that the St. Lawrence Seaway would end up on the Canadian rather than the US side. That didn't happen.
‘Of course, the biggest thing that’s come through here is a sailboat,’ says Cornwall councillor and historian Claude McIntosh. McIntosh grew up in Cornwall.
‘I actually, as a youngster, watched the bridge being built and now I’m watching it come down.’
It took two years to build the bridge it will take two years to take it down. And people are watching it all with interest.
There's even footage from a drone to capture all the action. André Girard is the Vice-President of Communications with the Federal Bridge Corporation Ltd which owns the bridge on behalf of the federal government. He has been stick-handling much of the social media around the interest over the bridge.
‘When a section of the bridge was being taken down earlier,’ Girard says, ‘people ran out of the house to take photos and look at the pieces falling because they couldn't see the sky before. In terms of dismantling, it’s our biggest project so far.’
There is no question the demolition of the bridge will change the landscape of this Seaway City.
‘There are a lot of people who will have to change their marketing material because the bridge has always been a part of it,’ says Cornwall’s Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy, who also sees the economic potential behind the removal of the bridge, which occupies a large chunk of prime real estate along the water.
‘We are working with the developer of these lands and the owner to put together a good picture of what we envision as being beneficial to the city of Cornwall,’ he adds.
The bridge has always a part of Bob Earle's life too but not for much longer.
‘I never for the life of me thought I would live to see them tear it down but with a bit of luck I’ll live a few more years and see the whole thing happen.’
Demolition is supposed to be done by June of next year.