It’s being called a historic day in Kingston.
Fifty years after it was first imagined, officials broke ground Monday on the third bridge crossing over the Cataraqui River.
The “in-water” construction work cleared its final hurdle earlier this month when a detailed impact assessment was approved by the federal government.
“It’s clear that this bridge serves so many purposes for so many people in our city, so it’s long overdue.” Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson said. “It’s exciting to see this bridge starting construction today.”
Kingston and the Islands MP Mark Gerretsen also had a shovel in his hand.
“This goes back to the days of a Ken Linesman and the traffic control committees back in the 60s and 70s where they started floating this idea,” Gerretsen said.
It’s an idea that doesn’t happen without a funding partnership between the three levels of government, each contributing $60 million dollars, Gerretsen added.
“You have different levels of government from different political parties working together to make sure that residents of this community end up getting what they need.”
Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs, represented the province at the midday ceremony.
“The first time I heard about this was some five years ago, I was in opposition, people came to tell me how important this bridge was for this area to build not only for the city of Kingston but the economy here and to help people get around,” Hardeman said.
And while those on hand didn’t see a lot of activity on the water on Monday, Mark Mallett, the area manager for Kiewit Construction, the company building the bridge, says that will all change over the next few days.
“The first thing you’re going to see is there will be some dump trucks bringing in the rock material and our equipment will place it properly so it can be in place for our temporary access on the water.”
Mallett said wildlife will also be taken care of.
“There’s provisions made so that turtles, fish and other marine animals can access underneath and around the causeway. We put these crossing in so they can travel un-impacted.”
Paterson said the 21st-century bridge is being constructed in the best as well as the most responsible way possible.
“So it’s been months of working, making sure that all the environmental details are in place and now we’re ready to move forward.”
The 1.2 kilometre long, two-lane bridge comes with a price tag of $180 million and is expected to be completed by 2023.