October 22, 2017 2:41 pm

Workers on overdrive to finish Montreal’s new Champlain Bridge

WATCH: There’s just over a year before the new Champlain Bridge is expected to be completed, but as Global's Tim Sargeant reports, making the deadline won’t be easy.

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Workers and engineers building the new Champlain Bridge are in overdrive mode trying to deliver the new 3.4-kilometre span over the St. Lawrence River by December 1, 2018.

Eight hundred and twenty-five workers, a 25 per cent increase since the summer, are now working on alternating 12-hour shifts, 20 hours a day.

“The key is focusing on delivering on time for December 2018,” Daniel Genest of the Signature on the Saint Lawrence, the consortium of companies building the bridge, told Global News.

Sixty per cent of the job is done — all the footings are in place. Two hundred and seventy of 324 piers (the support legs) are installed.

There is still plenty of work to be done.

Pier caps, box girders, and deck slabs still have to be added, piece-by-piece, on top of each other, like assembling a Lego set.

READ MORE: Whistleblowing engineer who exposed Champlain Bridge woes faces sanction

Then comes the signature piece of the bridge, building the support tower with the cable stays.

“In fact, it’s two slim antennas with 15 beams in each and one cable hanging from each side of each beam. So, really that’s the backbone of the future bridge,” Frederic Guitard, the Cable Stayed Bridge Manager told Global News.

The new bridge is being made with state of the art materials.

New, high-grade concrete is being used.

READ MORE: Lawsuit filed over Champlain Bridge construction delays

Waterproof membranes are being added.

Stainless steel re-bar that is resistant to abrasive road salt is being installed.

And new sensors are being built-in to monitor the bridge 24/7.

The new bridge will be 3.4-kilometres long and will have six lanes of traffic, three in each direction for cars plus two permanently reserved lanes for public transit. There will also be reserved bike lanes and sidewalks for pedestrians.

“It’s one of the largest infrastructure projects right now in North America,” Genest said.

The existing 65-year-old Champlain Bridge is nearing the end of its life. But officials have been told to put aside $250 million in the event it has to stay operational until 2020.

“We will always ensure that the bridge is safe for the travelling public,” Glen Carlin, the CEO of the Jacques-Carter and Champlain Bridges told Global News.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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