The first visible sign that Kingston’s much-touted $180 million third bridge crossing is nearing construction is currently floating in the middle of the Cataraqui River.
Crews from ODS Marine and Marathon Drilling have been on a barge since late October to conduct geo-technical testing of the riverbed and sediment to get a more accurate reading of how deep the bridge support piers will be.
“They’re doing some more drilling in the river to get a better understanding of some of the bedrock conditions and sediment conditions overlaying the rock,” explains Mark Van Buren, the City of Kingston’s director of the project.
He expects crews on the barge will be scanning various points of the 1.2-kilometre-long crossing route daily until the end of November.
“It’s extremely important work. It’s early work. It’s to help amass all the important information that’s going to be fed to the design team.”
Even though sections of the river are shallow, Van Buren says the bridge foundation could go as deep as 40 metres to reach solid bedrock. At least 10 piers will be positioned on the bedrock to support the bridge, which will feature two traffic lanes and a multi-use pathway for pedestrians and cyclists.
In addition, residents will notice ongoing preparation work on the bridge landing points on both the eastern and western shores of the river.
“We’re currently doing some tree survey and assessment work, some archaeological investigations and utility investigations,” Van Buren explains.
Actual construction of the bridge linking John Counter Boulevard and Gore Road is expected to start next summer, though an exact start date has yet to be determined. It will take about three years to complete the fixed link.
Funding for the bridge was secured in the past year when all three levels of government each committed $60 million, a one-third funding share.
Kingston's bridge construction partnership
The city has hired a private international team led by Peter Kiewit Sons ULC, Hatch Ltd. and SYSTRA International Bridge Technologies to design and build the fixed link that will be located midway between the LaSalle Causeway and Highway 401 on the Cataraqui River. The contract was awarded through a so-called integrated project delivery (IPD) model, believed to be a first-of-its-kind model in North America, according to Van Buren, who is the city’s deputy commissioner of infrastructure and transport.
“It’s unique in this situation where the owner, the city of Kingston, is actively involved in both the design and construction phase working arm-in-arm with both the design team and the main contractor.”
The initial construction plan was to build a temporary bridge at a cost of millions of dollars across the waterway to delivery crews, equipment and materials to support each phase of the in-water work. However, Van Buren says the city may be able to use barges as a cheaper alternative for some of the work.
“A temporary work bridge is the leading option but we haven’t closed the door to other options that could be used,” he says, adding: “We’re also looking at other options like a marine-based approach we could utilize marine barges that would support construction equipment.”
He says more on-site prep work is needed in order to secure final approvals from Parks Canada, the federal department that manages the waterway at the start of the Rideau Canal system, a UNESCO world heritage site.
“Some of the final design work is important to have in hand before we’re able to conclude the work with Parks Canada.”
The new bridge is expected to ease traffic congestion on the nearby Highway 401 and LaSalle Causeway, both of which also cross the waterway, while providing improved access for public transit and emergency vehicles between the central and eastern areas of the city.
Van Buren adds: “We remain very confident that we’ll be able to deliver this project on time and on budget.”
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