If you want to say your final goodbyes to Montreal's Old Champlain Bridge, now's your last chance. Before it's demolished next year, Heritage Montreal is offering a limited run of guided tours of the dilapidated Champlain Bridge.
Over two weekends in November, potential visitors can embark on one of ten separate tours. The tour starts in Verdun and includes a trip to two previously inaccessible places on the bridge for a photo-op. Bridge enthusiasts will learn about the history of the Old Champlain Bridge in its "historical and geographical context." Tours are offered in both French and English.
Montreal's Old Champlain Bridge was finally decommissioned in June 2019. It was the busiest bridge in Canada right up until its closure. Opened in 1962, it connected the Island of Montreal with the South Shore suburbs. In 2015, construction began on the parallel new Samuel de Champlain Bridge. The new bridge was desperately needed after the old bridge suffered years of degradation.
Tours will last 90 minutes, rain or shine. Participants must pre-register and purchase tickets by visiting the Heritage Montreal website (found here).
The bridge is infamous for all the issues it has had over the years. Design problems and Montreal's unpredictable climate wreaked havoc on the structural integrity of the bridge.
According to The Globe and Mail, improper drainage of de-icing salt in the winter caused concrete and steel girders to degrade despite several restoration projects to maintain the bridge. The Old Champlain Bridge was a patchwork of steel reinforcements and repairs up until it was finally closed in 2019.
Though it's more-or-less safe, the bridge had to be decommissioned because the amount of traffic it carried was unsustainable.
The 3.4-kilometre-long new Champlain Bridge spans eight traffic lanes. It will eventually include the REM railway line and was built to last 125 years.