Feds to demolish portion of LaSalle Causeway, putting reopening times in jeopardy

LaSalle Causeway

The federal government has decided to demolish and remove the portion of the LaSalle Causeway in Kingston that has resulted in the causeway being closed since March 30.

For the city’s beleaguered cruise ship industry, this means the closure could stretch into at least July, as a number of ships remain stuck in the inner harbour and unable to service the busy tourism season.

In a public notice issued Wednesday, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) said results from a laser survey have revealed “additional and significant displacement and misalignment of certain key elements” of the Bascule Bridge, which was damaged in March during a repair project. 

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The lift bridge is a key component of the causeway, which brings traffic into downtown Kingston from the east.

PSPC added that the original estimated timeline for completing repairs on the Bascule Bridge “is no longer achievable.”

According to PSPC, the analysis also indicated that the remaining life of the Bascule Bridge has been significantly reduced.

“Given these delays, the outstanding risk to return to operations and the reduced life of the Bascule Bridge, and after discussion with the City of Kingston, PSPC has decided to urgently move forward with a limited tendering process for the demolition and removal of the entire structure,” said PSPC in the public notice, adding that it expects to be able to award a contract for this work as early as the week of June 3.

PSPC expects demolition work to begin the week of June 3 after the contract is awarded. 

“Once bids are received, PSPC will have more clarity on the schedule for demolition work and will communicate timelines to the public.”

PSPC expects pedestrian access could end next week and said it anticipates reopening the channel for marine navigation in early July. It added that it is developing a plan to restore vehicle, cyclist and pedestrian access through a “temporary modular bridge solution while preparing to commence preliminary design work to advance the construction of a new replacement bridge.” 

The closure of the causeway has caused significant problems for the local cruise ship industry, with a number of ships stuck in the inner harbour.

Other Kingston businesses, particularly those in the downtown core, have also voiced concerns about diminished foot traffic and disruptions to shopping patterns. According to data from the Downtown Kingston BIA, there were at least 6,600 fewer visitors to the city’s downtown in April as compared to 2023, and 3,000 fewer than March.

 A petition was started by a number of local organizations, asking for a speedy solution to the closure. Some have said that tourists are cancelling their plans due to the closure and its effects on local attractions.

The head of Kingston Accommodation Partners told EOBJ earlier this month that the impact on the city’s tourism economy of the ongoing closure will grow from $20 million to hundreds of millions of dollars if the situation persists through May and into June.

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