Iconic span of Cornwall bridge lowered today
Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa
Published Wednesday, September 30, 2015 5:33PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 30, 2015 6:40PM EDT
Something is noticeably different about the skyline in Cornwall. The biggest part of the iconic bridge that graced the Seaway city is slowly disappearing. The 1.6 kilometre high level bridge between Cornwall and Cornwall Island is being dismantled bit by bit, making way for the new low level bridge beside it.
It's an historic moment for Cornwall. The arch that symbolized the city was being lowered Wednesday and residents had a front row seat to the action.
‘This is an experience here, watching them to take it down,’ says Cornwall resident Marcel Laframboise. Both he and his wife, Pierrette, have lived in the city all their lives, ‘Hope everything goes good.’
One hundred feet in the air, sparks were flying as iron workers finished cutting through the iconic span of bridge. This is the toughest part of the bridge dismantle because of the height and the fact that it is over water.
Robert Goulet is with Morrison Hershfield Engineering, the company responsible for the $75 million bridge dismantle and re-build, ‘It's probably going to take about six hours or so to come down once it starts moving,’ he says, ‘And it hasn't started moving yet.’
Down below residents of Cornwall gathered to watch. Veronique Desjardins' husband is on that crew dismantling the bridge.
‘It was a big day for my husband,’ she says, with her four-month-old baby by her side in a stroller, ‘and he wanted us to be here for him.’
This is a moment many residents didn't want to miss. With lawn chairs and cameras in hand, they set up for hours to watch it unfold.
‘It’s history in the making,’ said Cindy Daniluck, who brought her 3-year-old grandson along, ‘that's why so many people out here. You're not going to see it every day; you're not going to see it again.’
The bridge first opened in 1962 but had reached the end of its lifecycle.
‘It would cost three times more just to re-deck old bridge rather than build a brand new low level bridge,’ says André Girard, with the Federal Bridge Corporation.
It took two years to build the bridge. It will take two years to bring it down. The arch alone took four weeks to prep but mere hours to bring it down. But lowering 950 tons is no easy feat. Attached to something called ‘strand jacks’, the section was dropped at a rate of 15 feet an hour.
For resident Bob Earle, who lives across the street from the bridge, it was quite an event.
‘Everybody is so excited,’ says Earle, whose friends and family members had gathered on the lawn in chairs to watch the dismantling, ‘but everything is happening so slowly that we are wondering whether it will really happen.’
Earle’s photos are testament to that, capturing the slow descent of the 950-ton structure. The entire bridge will be gone by next year, every piece of it, leaving a wide open vista and perhaps a small hole in the hearts of a few Cornwall residents.