Question Period Note: National Capital Region bridges


Reference number:
Date received:
Jun 23, 2021
Public Services and Procurement Canada
Name of Minister:
Anand, Anita (Hon.)
Title of Minister:
Minister of Public Services and Procurement


Budget 2019 provided funding for the replacement of the Alexandra Bridge, the rehabilitation and ongoing maintenance of the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge, and the Chaudière Crossing. It also provided direction for refreshing technical studies on a potential 6th interprovincial crossing in the National Capital Region (NCR) and developing a Long-term Integrated Interprovincial Crossings Plan.

Suggested Response:

  • The government continues to improve crossings in the NCR
    • My department is working closely with the National Capital Commission (NCC) and the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau, and other partners, to ensure federal bridges in the NCR are safely and effectively serving Canadians, and required lane closures are properly co-ordinated
    • Funding has been allocated to the NCC to help address the maintenance and rehabilitation requirements of its 2 interprovincial crossings, the Champlain and Portage bridges. These projects started in 2020
    • We are investing to rehabilitate and maintain existing crossings, including the Chaudière and Macdonald-Cartier bridges
    • The pre-planning activities underway for the Alexandra Bridge replacement project include design, several stages of public consultation and an Impact Assessment
    • We are also investing in repair projects to ensure that the Alexandra Bridge remains safe for use until its replacement
    • Budget 2021 announced a dedicated project office would be established at Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), jointly with the NCC to address the need for an additional NCR crossing

If pressed on the Long-term Integrated Interprovincial Crossings Plan:

  • The NCC is responsible for the Long-term Integrated Interprovincial Crossings Plan, in collaboration with the City of Ottawa, la Ville de Gatineau, provinces of Ontario and Quebec, transit authorities, and other stakeholders
  • The NCC awarded a contract to IBI Group Inc. in spring 2020 to propose a long-term transportation strategy for the future of sustainable interprovincial travel in the NCR
  • The plan will confirm the vision, policies and infrastructure priorities for sustainable interprovincial travel for a 2050 planning horizon. It will also act as a blueprint to support decision-making at all levels of government to achieve integrated and coordinated multi-modal interprovincial transportation in the NCR
  • The plan will go through multiple phases of public consultation before being finalized in late 2021

If pressed on a sixth crossing:

  • Further planning work beyond the WSP Canada Group’s cost estimates and evaluation that started in 2019 requires an impact assessment that provides for comprehensive consultation with the public and stakeholders, including Indigenous partners. It would also leverage the results of the Long-term Integrated Interprovincial Crossings Plan due to be completed in late 2021

If pressed on replacing the Alexandra Bridge:

  • PSPC and the NCC hosted public consultations in November 2020 and will continue to host consultations with the public and stakeholders throughout the planning and design phases to deliver a new bridge that meets the community’s needs. PSPC and the NCC will also work together to consult and coordinate with our partners including the City of Gatineau, the City of Ottawa, Indigenous communities as well as other jurisdictions to develop a comprehensive plan to reduce impacts to the public while the bridge is replaced
  • In February 2021, PSPC proactively published on its website the executive summary of the cost analysis study in order to be transparent about the data behind the decision to replace the bridge. The project team will continue to publish studies proactively as the project progresses
  • Planning and the impact assessment activities are underway. The construction of a new bridge to replace the Alexandra Bridge is expected to take up to 10 years. In the meantime, inspections and repair work continue to ensure the bridge remains safe and accessible until it is replaced. For instance, from January 2 to June 13, 2021, the bridge was completely closed to traffic to enable the contractor responsible for the Structural Steel Replacement project to complete critical repairs

If pressed on interprovincial tramway connections:

  • As announced in Budget 2021, the NCC will establish an interprovincial transit project office within the NCC that will study and plan for potential interprovincial tramway connections between Ottawa and Gatineau, in addition to consulting and collaborating with municipal, provincial, and transportation partners
  • In alignment with visions set in the NCC’s 2013 Interprovincial Transit Strategy and its 2017 Plan for Canada’s Capital, this initiative, along with a confluence of transportation initiatives currently underway, offers an opportunity to rethink connections within the urban core of the NCR


There are 5 interprovincial crossings in the NCR. PSPC manages and operates the Alexandra Bridge (built from 1898 to 1901), Chaudière Crossing (portions built in 1828, and Union Bridge built in 1919) and the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge (built in 1965). The NCC manages and operates the Champlain Bridge (built in 1928) and the Portage Bridge (built in 1973).

Transportation studies conducted over the last 10 years have consistently shown that the 5 existing crossings and connecting roadways are at full capacity during morning and evening peak travel times (average daily traffic on all crossings: 187,000 vehicles daily; 9,000 using active transportation). That being said, the Long Term Integrated Interprovincial Crossings Plan will take into consideration the impacts of COVID-19 on peak hour capacity requirements due to potential changes in working patterns.

Long Term Integrated Interprovincial Crossings Plan

In providing the way forward to achieve the vision and goals of the Plan, the following areas will be addressed:

  • New technologies and innovations in interprovincial mobility
  • Regional transition toward low-carbon and climate-resilient mobility networks/systems
  • Current and future interprovincial travel demands
  • Sustainable alternatives for the movement of goods by truck throughout the core area

Sixth crossing

Budget 2019 directed the NCC to “Address the demonstrated need for an additional NCR crossing by refreshing existing studies and developing a long-term integrated interprovincial crossing plan with both provincial governments and the cities of Gatineau and Ottawa.”

With regard to the first commitment, in 2020 the NCC has completed a refresh of existing technical studies on three potential corridors: Kettle Island (Corridor 5), Lower Duck Island (Corridor 6), and McLaurin Bay (Corridor 7). The scope of the refresh included the following 8 technical studies: noise and vibration, land use, air quality, fisheries and aquatic habitat, transportation, Indigenous history, Economic Development, and Natural Environment.

The purpose of the refresh was not to recommend a specific corridor. Any next steps on a potential sixth crossing project will depend on further planning activities and would leverage the results of the Long-term Integrated Interprovincial Crossings Plan due to be completed in late 2021.

WSP Canada Group Limited was awarded the contract by the NCC to refresh the 2013 technical studies previously mentioned on a potential sixth crossing at a cost of approximately $440,000.

Again, the purpose of the refresh was not to recommend a specific corridor, but rather to inform any future government consideration of a sixth crossing project.

Separately, PSPC engaged WSP Canada Group Limited to assist with conceptual designs, cost estimates, and a refreshed assessment and evaluation of 3 potential corridors, for internal use to inform departmental work (this work cost $1,384,037). These reports relied on the findings of the NCC’s refreshed studies.

Alexandra Bridge

The Government of Canada is committed to maintaining the integrity of its infrastructure, while ensuring the safety of its assets and conserving its heritage. Public Services and Procurement Canada’s Heritage Conservation Services celebrates 50 years of providing advice, guidance and assistance to Government clients, enabling them to comply with their Treasury Board obligations on the management and disposal of federal heritage designated assets. I would like to highlight the complex and delicate contributions of these services made to the completed West Block project, as well as their ongoing involvement in the East Block, Centre Block and the Supreme Court of Canada projects. Those efforts extend beyond the National Capital Region where numerous assets are being conserved such as the Province House in Charlottetown.

While the Alexandra Bridge is recognized as a bridge of National Historic Civil Engineering Site by the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering, the Alexandra Bridge is over 120 years old and is nearing the end of its lifecycle. The decision to replace this beloved bridge was not taken lightly.

A 2017 third-party Life-Cycle Cost Assessment looked at options for investing in the Alexandra Bridge over the long term. The study determined that replacing the bridge would be less disruptive to the public, as well as more economical, than attempting to maintain the existing bridge.

A structural evaluation of the bridge (completed in March 2020) revealed that due to the deterioration of several bridge members, load restrictions were required. Its replacement became more critical after inspectors found an unexpected structural flaw, which forced the bridge’s closure for several weeks in 2020, for emergency repairs. Other repair projects are planned and will be completed to ensure the bridge remains safe and accessible until its replacement.

The preliminary cost estimates of the various options were also released, although they are not final and may increase over time.

The planning and impact assessment activities for this replacement project are underway.

Chaudière Crossing upcoming works

Planned projects include the widening of the Hull Causeway and a major rehabilitation for the 100 year old Union Bridge. The work will take place from July 2021 to September 2022. A positive outcome of this work will be the addition of dedicated cyclist lanes.

Traffic will be limited during the construction period to public transit and active transportation in both directions. All commercial vehicles will be required to use the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge, however, local delivery vehicles, less than 33 tons, going northbound to Gatineau will be authorized on the Chaudière Crossing.

Additional Information: