This editorial is in response to an article by Bruno Bisson, “Pont Mercier: le chantier doit être complètement revu” (“Mercier Bridge: The project has to be completely rethought”), published in La Presse on Friday, June 29, 2012.
We learned today in La Presse that the Ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ) doesn’t know when or how it will carry out the major work to replace the deck of the oldest part of the Honoré Mercier Bridge, between Montreal and the South Shore. As initially planned, the total weight of the new deck and the new 2.5-metre-wide bike path to be added alongside the traffic lanes would have been 57% heavier than the current deck.
The MTQ has another option: aluminium. Indeed, aluminium is a material that can be used advantageously to repair and replace bridge structures. The Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code was updated in 2011 to include a chapter on the use of aluminium. That means that there is no longer any obstacle that prevents consulting engineers or MTQ experts from using aluminium to lighten the load borne by the Honoré Mercier Bridge. An aluminium deck would be considerably lighter, and on top of this the bike path could be built as an aluminium overhang. This has already been done in other places.
The Aluminium Association of Canada will soon be publishing a report on the potential for using aluminium to build highway bridges and overpasses. Prepared by experts at Waterloo University and MAADI Group in Montreal, the report describes well-documented possibilities for using aluminium to build new bridges and retrofit existing ones.
It’s time to opt for proven, innovative solutions that will allow Quebec companies to get the most out of locally produced aluminium.
More and more, the focus is on using the right material in the right place. It’s now clear that the Mercier Bridge needs aluminium!