In an editorial published by La Presse on January 25, 2012, François Cardinal suggests that aluminium be used for the Champlain Bridge replacement.
In line with the notion of using “the right material in the right place,” he argues that we need to optimize the choice of materials for the new bridge. As a society, we are starting to rebuild infrastructure dating back to a (happily) bygone era, when it was normal to install 27-tonne concrete grids above tunnel entrances and exits to help drivers’ eyes adjust to the change in light — a solution as logical as installing cast-iron venetian blinds on bedroom windows.
Good reasons for using more aluminium include the recent update of the Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code in order to integrate the use of aluminium, technological developments of recent years such as large-surface welding techniques, the use of proven methods to analyse the real costs of civil engineering structures over their full lifetime and the availability of expertise developed by aluminium fabrication businesses right here in Quebec.
The Champlain Bridge may be rusty and crumbling, but the Arvida Bridge, built of aluminium in the 1950s, has been declared a National Historic Civil Engineering Site by the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering. And it will still be standing long after the Champlain Bridge has been replaced.
Aluminium can lighten the load of the new bridge, requires minimal maintenance, is competitively priced and has aesthetic value. It deserves to be given its rightful place.
Let’s avoid building the future on yesterday’s mistakes. It’s important to make enlightened, logical choices. We not only can, we must!