Quebecers get once in a lifetime opportunity to set foot on the Champlain Bridge

Click to play video: 'Old Champlain Bridge welcomes pedestrians'
Old Champlain Bridge welcomes pedestrians
WATCH: For the first time ever, pedestrians got the chance to walk across the old Champlain bridge on Saturday. Global's Olivia O'Malley reports from the unique opportunity on the historic Montreal landmark – Nov 2, 2019

For two weekends in November, 800 Quebecers will get the opportunity to walk on the historic Champlain Bridge.

The Bridge was considered to be the busiest bridge in Canada before its 2019 closure. Upward of 150,000 vehicles crossed it every day.

Spanning 3.4 kilometres over the St. Lawrence River, the bridge opened on June 28, 1962, costing $35 million.

It was a major link to the rural South Shore, which was mostly agricultural farmland, and the United States, acting as a gateway to the Island of Montreal.

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“It became an entry, a spectacular entry, an entrance to the city with the scenery of downtown appearing,” said Heritage Montreal spokesperson Dinu Bumbaru.

The public’s response was beyond what organizers expected. The guided tours sold out within 24 hours.

“We wanted to give the public an experience, it’s obviously unique to walk on a six-lane bridge that’s totally disconnected from the network,” said Ponts Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges communications director Nathalie Lessard.

As engineers, Île-Bizard resident Andrée Drolet and her husband are both interested in the Bridge’s architecture.

“We are very happy to have this opportunity, it’s great,” she said.

The 57-year-old bridge was decommissioned when the Samuel de Champlain Bridge opened to traffic on July 1, 2019.

The structure deteriorated over time, as it had an insufficient water drainage system and was susceptible to road salt, which transport Quebec introduced in the 1960s.

Its deconstruction is expected to last four years starting in the summer of 2020 — and cost about $400 million dollars.

“We really want a delicate process because we are extremely concerned with protecting the St. Lawrence River, the fish habitat, and also the impact on the population,” said Lessard.

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Constructed using 250,000 tonnes of concrete and 25,000 tonnes of steel, the Bridge’s structure will eventually be repurposed.

“We are going to launch eventually sort of a catalog that people, organizations, municipalities, companies can bid on those pieces.”

Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated will decide who will be in charge of the Bridge’s deconstruction early next year.

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