Media Release: New Coalition Forms to Save Alexandra Bridge

Alexandra Bridge seen from Ottawa River in Gatineau. Photo: D. Jones

Friday, April 30, 2021

The Alexandra Bridge Coalition wants a Green Future for the Alexandra Bridge!

The Federal Government proposes to demolish the Alexandra Bridge.

The Alexandra Bridge Coalition proposes that the Bridge be retained for its national heritage value and significance, and repurposed for green infrastructure transportation. 

Keeping the Alexandra Bridge is the Sustainable Thing to do:

  1. Sustainability is a cornerstone of the Government of Canada’s policies on climate change. The greenest structure is the one that is already there. These principles should guide the debate on revitalizing the Alexandra Bridge. 
  2. Even pre-pandemic, the Alexandra Bridge was supporting greener transportation. It carried 40% of active pedestrian and cycling cross-river transportation, and only 9% of the vehicular traffic. This trend needs support not erasure. 
  3. A repurposed Alexandra Bridge could accommodate a green-friendly Loop Tramway, better linking Ottawa and Gatineau along a significant, tourist-dominated route connecting the National Capital’s major destinations. The National Capital Commission has been charged with studying tramway options, and it just makes sense to consider the Alexandra Bridge in those studies.
  4. Conversion of the bridge to active transportation would alleviate much of the corrosion and load stresses brought on by vehicular traffic and would better ensure its maintainability and durability. 
  5. Conversely, a new bridge designed to carry increased vehicular traffic would have a negative impact on the social sustainability of the residential neighbourhoods at both ends.
  6. Good sustainability practice calls for assessments of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that would be produced by the demolition, materials removals, traffic detours, and construction of the new bridge, as opposed to retention of the existing bridge. But demolition is not necessary.

The Alexandra Bridge is significant because: 

The Alexandra Bridge is of national historic importance for its historical, engineering, and environmental significance: 

  • The Alexandra Bridge was built by the Dominion Bridge Company in 1900, the first Canadian company to tackle an engineering feat of this scope. 
  • The Alexandra Bridge is an outstanding work of engineering as recognized by the Canadian Society of Civil Engineering. The engineering value of the Alexandra Bridge resides in its innovative design, featuring all steel construction and mid-truss deck. It is internationally recognized as an outstanding example of the cantilevered steel bridge type.
  • The Alexandra Bridge is a key component of the nationally significant landscape of the Parliamentary precinct and its environs, encompassing monuments and landscape features on both sides of the Ottawa River.

The National Capital Commission’s own website refers to the Alexandra Bridge as a major national landmark. It is recognized for its iconic beauty and world-class workmanship.

The Alexandra Bridge Coalition seeks:

  • A reversal of the decision to demolish the bridge in favour of the revitalization of the bridge for active transportation.
  • In support of evidence-based decision-making, we request access to all studies: historical studies, engineering studies, options analyses, financial analyses, traffic studies, and environmental and cultural heritage impact studies. 
  • A peer-review of the decision to demolish the bridge.
  • Full public consultation on the future of the bridge, not on how it should be commemorated after demolition. This includes consultations with the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau, and appropriate provincial partners.
  • Referral to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada for consideration as a national historic site.
  • Stabilization and maintenance of the structure according to the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada.
  • A management plan posited upon a future as an active-transportation bridge.  This plan should be created through public consultation and signed by the minister responsible.

For more information, please contact:

Claude Royer (porte-parole, en français)

Jordan Ferraro (spokesperson, English)

Coalition Members / Co-signatories:

The National Trust for Canada 

Heritage Ottawa

La Fédération Histoire Québec (FHQ) 

Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO)

Architects DCA

La Société d’histoire de l’Outaouais (SHO) 

La Société franco-ontarienne du patrimoine et de l'histoire d'Orléans

Transport Action Canada

Greenspace Alliance for Canada’s Capital

Action Vélo Outaouais (AVO)

Bike Ottawa

L’Association des résidents de l’Île de Hull (ARIH)

L'Association du patrimoine du ruisseau de la Brasserie (APRB)

Lowertown Community Association

Manor Park Community Association

Action Sandy Hill 

Haunted Walks Inc.

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