Bridging Bonds: Sustainably Deconstructing the Champlain Bridge

Pont Champlain

While you're probably well aware of the construction projects underway in your communities and across Canada, have you heard of the fascinating world of deconstruction projects?  

For the last four years, members of our team have dedicated their time and efforts to the deconstruction of the original Champlain Bridge, one of North America’s busiest spans, with 50 million cars, buses and trucks crossing it each year. Together with Delsan-A.I.M. Environmental Services, we formed, Nouvel Horizon St-Laurent (NHSL), and completed the Jaques Cartier Champlain Bridges Incorporated’s (JCCBI) most ambitious and unique project to date. 

From 2020-2023, the team dismantled the nearly 3.4 km long structure. The bridge was in a sensitive environment, where the river, its flora and fauna, protected species (falcons and white-fronted swallows), and residents on both banks cohabitated.  

Transforming and Adapting Together 

The deconstruction of the nearly 60-year-old bridge required the involvement of partners, field teams, support departments, consultants, the client, and the Ministry of Environment. 

To foster collaboration, we implemented measurement, control tools and resources adapted to the challenges of the projects. We developed innovative working methods such as: 

  • A catamaran barge lifted and transported the bridge's marine spans.  
  • Hydraulic jacks with cables to lower the suspended span, placed on a barge.  
  • Watertight floating floors installed around the piers.  
  • Containment systems to deconstruct the foundations of the marine piers. 
Antoine Audoynaud

Antoine Audoynaud- Construction Director

"It was an incredible experience for the team and I, who joined forces to achieve a common goal while showing solidarity and mutual support for each other. I can assure you that with such team spirit, nothing is impossible!"

Bringing the Riverbank Back to Life 

To measure and reduce the project’s environmental impact, we monitored the GHG emissions for all deconstruction activities. By respecting authorized work periods in sensitive areas and using demolition techniques that protected the river from demolition debris, we protected land and water biodiversity. 

Over 96% of the deconstruction materials, including concrete, steel and asphalt were recycled, contributing to the circular economy. 

Stacy Picard

Stacy Picard- Regional Environmental Manager

"We worked with dynamic, multidisciplinary teams, who demonstrated a high level of inventiveness and problem-solving in the face of the challenges encountered. The project enabled me to consolidate my skills in project management, communications and environmental awareness. I'm proud to have taken part in this major project, which has brought the St. Lawrence River and its banks back to life."

There’s Pride in Health and Safety 

On land, at sea and in the air, this project posed a major health and safety challenge. It required rigorous training, control measures and continuous adjustments.  

Traffic management, the pedestrian and vehicle circulation plan and coordination involving people and equipment between the three project sites were complex tasks to achieve. Involving health and safety coordinators was crucial to this project's success.  

Celine De Olivera

Celine De Oliveira-Health and Safety Director

"One of the most impressive stages of the project was the spectacular dismantling of the spans over the river and above the seaway. It required proactive preparation to prevent the slightest risk and ensure the health and safety of the workers. I was delighted to collaborate on this impressive project, which was completed with pride."