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LaSalle Causeway bridge in Kingston, Ont. will need to be demolished

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The LaSalle Causeway Bascule Bridge will require being demolished, despite the federal government's assurances that repairs of the bridge were progressing after it was damaged at the end of March.

"Results from the confirmatory laser survey, referenced in the public notice of May 10, have revealed additional and significant displacement and misalignment of certain key elements of the bridge structure. Therefore, the original estimated timeline for completing repairs on the Bascule Bridge is no longer achievable," Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) said in a news release.

The federal government says demolition work will begin "shortly" after the contract for the demolition work is awarded. The decision is expected to be made as early as next week.

"Once bids are received, PSPC will have more clarity on the schedule for demolition work and will communicate timelines to the public. In the meantime, for planning purposes, it is expected that pedestrian access could end next week. We anticipate reopening the channel for marine navigation in early July," PSPC said.

The government is developing a plan to restore vehicle and pedestrian traffic through a temporary modular bridge while developing preliminary design work to advance the construction of a new replacement bridge.

Minister for Public Services and Procurement Canada Jean-Yves Duclos told reporters on Wednesday that he expects a temporary fix to be made quickly.

"It will be very rapid. There will be more news in the next few days and we are in touch with the city, the mayor and the local councillors who are doing a very, very good job," Duclos said.

He says the demolition needed to be done to accelerate the ability for vehicles to begin crossing to the other side. 

"We know how important that bridge is for the community," Duclos said.

The federally-owned bridge spans the Great Cataraqui River where it meets the St. Lawrence River. It connects drivers and pedestrians in the east end of Kingston to downtown, but it was damaged during routine construction on March 30. The long-term closure has prevented several vessels on the Cataraqui side from accessing the St. Lawrence.

In an update earlier this month, the federal government said repairs were expected to take seven to nine weeks to complete. The government had said work on the Bascule Bridge, which is part of the Causeway, was "underway" and "making progress."

The closure has caused significant traffic problems in downtown Kingston and has had an impact on the local tourism industry. Cruise ship companies who operate in the area have said the closure of the bridge has delayed their ability to launch ships.

The Causeway reopened for pedestrians and cyclists on May 15, but remained closed for cars.

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