The rusting Pont du Québec has been named a National Historic Site, however governments and CN Rail (the owner) have been unable to agree on who should pay to paint and repair
Photo Credit: Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press

A bridge too far.. too far gone.

Well, OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. The Quebec City bridge is not beyond repair, not ‘too far gone”, but it is in rough shape.

With metal delamination and rusting, the structure is slowly being weakened. © Jean-Francois Nadequ/ Radio-Canada

The riveted steel structure is still the longest cantilever bridge in the world and was declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 1996.

This engineering feat had a rough start with a total and deadly collapse during construction in 1907, and another deadly collapse of the centre span during re-construction in 1916, with a total of some 88 worker deaths.

A portion of the bridge after the deadly collapse of the almost completed bridge in 1907 carrying 75 men to their deaths. An error in calculating weight and load bearing lead to the first collapse. © Archives Canada Mikan-3523471

Now nearing it’s centennial. the road, rail, and pedestrian bridge is certainly showing its age, a victim of humidity and salt which is rusting and weakening the structure.

Repainting was begun several years ago but stoppeed halfway when the money ran out leaving the bridge two different colours. Now even the previously repainted sections are peeling and rusting © RAdio-Canada

A Belgian expert on anti-corrosion visiting Quebec City this week inspected the bridge and told Radio-Canada news that the bridge was in a condition equivalent to those he had seen in developing countries.  To be fair, Bruno Saverys was in the provincial capital to promote his anti-corrosion products.

Nevertheless, photos show some disquieting rusting of the structure.

The riveted steel truss structure is showing areas of metal loss of trusses and rivets, and delamination of the metal. A Belgian anti-corrosion specialist syas the little touch-ups here and there aren’t enough and there’s potential danger without major work. © Radio-Canada

In a Radio-Canada report Quebec City Mayor Regis Lebaume is quoted saying that the erosion of metal can never be good, adding in French, “that’s the second European expert who has said there’s potential danger”, adding that in light of these comments, the situation “has to be taken seriously”.

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