NCC approves Alexandra Bridge replacement planning principles

Photo: Michel Aspirot/Radio-Canada

Friday, June 25, 2021

CLICK HERE to hear Alan Neil of CBC Radio’s All In A Day interview with Alexandra Bridge Coalition co-spokesperson Jordan Ferraro.

CBC NEWS Ottawa, By Natalia Goodwin

The capital region is one step closer to replacing the 112-year-old Alexandra Bridge that runs between central Ottawa and Gatineau.

The National Capital Commission (NCC) approved six planning and design principles on Wednesday,which a future designer will have to follow when they develop their proposal. The principles were developed after public consultations, and shared with 14 indigenous communities and organizations.

The bridge, built in 1909,runs from Nepean Point near Ottawa's ByWard Market to the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau's Hull district.

In 2019, the federal public works department recommended the bridge be replaced because it had reached the end of its lifespan. The federal budget in 2019 stated the bridge should be replaced within 10 years.

"The public and stakeholders ... [want the new]bridge to excel in terms of architectural design, sustainability and environmental protection. The new bridge should provide exceptional views, contribute positively to the landscape and be an attractive place for visitors," the NCC's Marion Gale explained to the board Wednesday.

Gale said feedback made it clear the public wanted the new bridge to take into account the current bridge's heritage, and perhaps retain part of, or commemorate, the old bridge in some way.

The six principles include:

  • Mobility and continuity of the urban fabric.
  • Public space and civic experiences.
  • Structure, height, proportions and lighting.
  • Preservation of views and celebration of the bridge's legacy.
  • Sustainability and materiality.
  • Universal accessibility, legibility and wayfinding

Calls to save the bridge

A group called Alexandra Bridge Coalition has criticized the plan to replace the bridge and want to save the current structure from demolition

The group has suggested the bridge only serve those who use active transportation such as cycling, walking and running, to reduce the wear and tear caused by vehicles.

Gale said the NCC will continue to work with that group, but public works says the bridge will be replaced because the rust damage is already too severe and getting worse.

The bridge carries nine per cent of the city's vehicular traffic, and one-third of the pedestrian and cycling traffic between the two cities, according to the NCC.

The project will include three phases and several more chances for public consultation. The current timeline for a new bridge is 2032.