In collaboration with Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), the NCC is holding the first of several rounds of public consultation on the replacement of the Alexandra Bridge.

The Alexandra Bridge replacement project's first online public consultation is now closed.

Background

The Alexandra Bridge is one of five interprovincial bridges in Canada’s Capital Region that link the cities of Ottawa, Ontario, and Gatineau, Quebec. The bridge spans the Ottawa River from Nepean Point, just west of Ottawa’s ByWard Market to the Canadian Museum of History in the Hull district of Gatineau. Its usage represents approximately 9 percent of the average daily interprovincial vehicle traffic in the Capital Region. The bridge is used by about 33 percent of all active mobility users (i.e. pedestrians, cyclists, users with mobility aids and so on) crossing the Ottawa River.

The bridge is a major national landmark. It is recognized for its iconic beauty and world-class workmanship. When completed in 1901, the bridge represented a momentous achievement in engineering. It was an early example of the use of poured concrete piers and the exclusive use of steel in bridge construction. It was, at the time, the fourth-longest bridge of its type in the world, and the largest structure entirely constructed of steel in North America. Canadian engineers and designers conceived and executed its design. In 1995, the bridge was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Site by the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering. The bridge has had a long service life, which attests to the excellent quality of the craftsmanship and materials used in its construction.

The bridge is now reaching the end of its service life and is due for replacement. It is currently undergoing repairs, and will undergo more in 2022–2023 that will allow it to remain in service until it is replaced. Studies have found that it is no longer economical to maintain the 120-year-old structure. The Government of Canada announced in Budget 2019 that the bridge would be replaced within the next 10 years.

PSPC will be working in collaboration with the NCC on the design of the replacement bridge. The design and construction process will take place over an approximately 10-year period, and is part of a broader effort to improve interprovincial transportation in Canada’s Capital Region. Site work is scheduled to begin in 2028, and construction of the new bridge is expected to be completed by 2032.

Description of the project and project stages

The replacement of the Alexandra Bridge will take place in the following three stages:

Pre-planning (2020–2021)

  • Develop vision and design guidelines
  • Public consultation 1: design guidelines, potential impacts and mitigation

Planning (2021–2025)

  • Development of design options
  • Public consultation 2: conceptual design options and evaluation
  • Public consultation 3: preliminary design
  • Public consultation 4: final design

Procurement and implementation (2025–2032)

  • Procurement process to award design and construction contract
  • Public consultation 5: final design and construction plan
  • Final design and construction plan submitted to NCC board of directors
  • Demolition and construction

The basic requirements for the bridge are the following:

  1. Two lanes for vehicle traffic (one in each direction) that could — in the future — be adapted for public transit via a tram or light rail system.
  2. One lane for active mobility (i.e. pedestrians, cyclists, users with mobility aids and so on) on the upstream (west) side of the bridge. The active mobility lane will be bidirectional, with separation of pedestrians and cyclists. The active mobility lane should include seating and viewing locations that provide rest points without compromising safety or obstructing users.
  3. The traffic lanes and the active mobility lane will have a solid surface that will protect the bridge from the elements, de-icing products and dirt. This will allow for a longer-lasting structure.

The replacement of the Alexandra Bridge also presents a unique opportunity to reimagine this vital connection between Ottawa and Gatineau. Located at the heart of the Capital Region on the traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe, and offering one of the area’s most breathtaking views of Parliament, the new bridge will occupy a space rich in symbolism and history. In short, the bridge will have a functional purpose, but it will also represent something greater than the sum of its parts.

Credit: LAC/Topley
From the materials employed to build it, to its uses as a public space and its appearance, it will — like its predecessor — make a statement about the values and priorities of the times in which it was built. An important part of this stage of the project is therefore to provide a response to the following question: What does the Alexandra Bridge mean to us as residents of Canada’s Capital Region and as Canadians?

Vision and design guidelines

The vision for the new bridge is to create a bridge as a unique civic place, reflective of Canadian values and identity, and respectful of the integrity of the national capital’s cultural landscapes.

This vision is supported by the following draft design guidelines. You can click on any of the cards to learn more about the details of each category.

Project considerations

It is anticipated that the crossing will be closed to traffic, including active mobility, for approximately three to four years between 2028 and 2032. Careful consideration will be given to the impact that construction will have on all groups, including general traffic, traffic management operations in communities on either side of the river, public and private transit operators, emergency services, police departments, cyclists, pedestrians, and other institutional and commercial operators in the vicinity of the bridge.

Removal of the Alexandra Bridge and construction of the new bridge will be planned in a manner that optimizes health and safety, environmental protection, the principles of sustainable development, and waste management. It will also minimize the adverse effects of construction (e.g. noise, vibration, dust and so on) on nearby communities.

The project will be subject to the impact assessment process, overseen by the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (IAAC).

A separate Indigenous engagement approach will be conducted by the NCC and PSPC with the support of Innovation 7, an Indigenous-owned consulting firm.

Next steps

The feedback provided by participants in the online consultation will be considered by the project team as it finalizes the vision and design guidelines for the new bridge. A report summarizing the input provided by participants and indicating how this feedback was used will be published on the NCC website. The draft vision and design guidelines will be presented to the NCC’s Advisory Committee on Planning, Design and Realty (ACPDR) in November 2020, and a final incorporating participant and ACPDR feedback will be submitted to the NCC Board of Directors for approval in April 2021.

Public input provided as part of this consultation will also be used to inform the impact assessment process for this project. The Initial Project Description, which includes a summary of the potential effects of the project on members of the public and interest groups, is scheduled to be submitted to the IAAC in early 2021.

Future opportunities for public engagement

There will be a number of other opportunities for members of the public to provide feedback on the project throughout the different project stages. This includes four additional rounds of public consultation.

In addition to these consultations, as per the regulatory requirements under the Impact Assessment Act (IAA), the IAAC will conduct its own separate engagement with the public and Indigenous groups on the information presented to the IAAC by PSPC and the NCC as part of the impact assessment process.

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