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Jacques Cartier Bridge

Jacques Cartier Bridge

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The Jacques Cartier Bridge is a steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

In architecture and structural engineering, a truss is a structure comprising one or more triangular units constructed with straight members whose ends are connected at joints referred to as nodes. External forces and reactions to those forces are considered to act only at the nodes and result in...

A cantilever is a beam anchored at only one end. The beam carries the load to the support where it is resisted by moment and shear stress. Cantilever construction allows for overhanging structures without external bracing. Cantilevers can also be constructed with trusses or slabs.This is in...

A bridge is a structure built to span physical obstacles such as a body of water, valley, or road, for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle...

 crossing the Saint Lawrence River
Saint Lawrence River
The Saint Lawrence is a large river flowing approximately from southwest to northeast in the middle latitudes of North America, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It is the primary drainage conveyor of the Great Lakes Basin...

 from Montreal Island, Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

, Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

 to the south shore at Longueuil, Quebec
Longueuil, Quebec
Longueuil is a city in the province of Quebec, Canada. It is the seat of the Montérégie administrative region and sits on the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River directly across from Montreal. The population as of the Canada 2006 Census totaled 229,330, making it the third largest city in...

, Canada. The bridge crosses Île Sainte-Hélène in the centre of the river, where offramps allow access to the Parc Jean-Drapeau
Parc Jean-Drapeau
Parc Jean-Drapeau is situated to the east of downtown Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in the Saint Lawrence River. It comprises two islands, Saint Helen's Island and the artificial island Île Notre-Dame....

 and La Ronde amusement park.

Originally named the Montreal Harbour Bridge (pont du Havre), it was renamed in 1934 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Jacques Cartier
Jacques Cartier
Jacques Cartier was a French explorer of Breton origin who claimed what is now Canada for France. He was the first European to describe and map the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, which he named "The Country of Canadas", after the Iroquois names for the two big...

's first voyage up the St. Lawrence River.

The five-lane highway bridge is 3,400 m (11,236 ft) in length, including the approach viaducts. There are approximately 35.4 million vehicle crossings annually, making it the second busiest bridge in Canada that is operated by the Federal Bridge Corporation Limited
Federal Bridge Corporation Limited
Federal Bridge Corporation Limited is a Canadian federal Crown corporation which is responsible for operating and managing the following bridges which until 1998 were managed by the St...

, the first being Champlain Bridge, just a few kilometres upstream. It is the third busiest bridge in Canada overall after the Port Mann Bridge
Port Mann Bridge
The Port Mann Bridge is a steel tied arch bridge that spans the Fraser River connecting Coquitlam to Surrey in British Columbia near Vancouver. The bridge consists of three spans with an orthotropic deck carrying five lanes of Trans-Canada Highway traffic, with approach spans of three steel plate...

 in Metro Vancouver (connecting Surrey to Coquitlam).

Together with Champlain Bridge, it is administered by the Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated (JCCBI), a federal agency which is a fully owned subsidiary of the Federal Bridge Corporation Limited.


Discussions began as early as 1874 about the construction of a new bridge to alleviate the congestion on Victoria Bridge, which was then a rail-only bridge, the wintertime ice bridge and the ferries used to connect the city to its south shore. The decision to build the bridge was made official in 1924. Construction was undertaken by the Dominion Bridge Company
Dominion Bridge Company
Dominion Bridge Company Limited was a Canadian steel bridge constructor originally based in Lachine, Quebec. From the core business of steel bridge component fabrication, the company diversified into related areas such as the fabrication of holding tanks for pulp mills and skyscraper framing.Other...

 starting in 1925 and completed in 1930. It was opened to traffic on May 14 of that year.

The bridge follows the general design concept of the Quebec Bridge
Quebec Bridge
right|thumb|Lifting the centre span in place was considered to be a major engineering achievement. Photo caption from [[Popular Mechanics]] Magazine, December 1917...

. It was, in turn, one of the design influences for the Story Bridge
Story Bridge, Brisbane
The Story Bridge is a cantilever bridge spanning the Brisbane River. Part of Bradfield Highway , it connects Fortitude Valley to Kangaroo Point. Before the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932 the Government of Queensland asked John Bradfield to design a new bridge in Brisbane...

, in Brisbane
Brisbane is the capital and most populous city in the Australian state of Queensland and the third most populous city in Australia. Brisbane's metropolitan area has a population of over 2 million, and the South East Queensland urban conurbation, centred around Brisbane, encompasses a population of...

, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, which was completed in 1940.

The bridge was originally designed as a road
A highway is any public road. In American English, the term is common and almost always designates major roads. In British English, the term designates any road open to the public. Any interconnected set of highways can be variously referred to as a "highway system", a "highway network", or a...

, tram
A tram is a passenger rail vehicle which runs on tracks along public urban streets and also sometimes on separate rights of way. It may also run between cities and/or towns , and/or partially grade separated even in the cities...

way, and pedestrian bridge. Tramway tracks were installed but never used. A parallel empty space used to be to the right of the roadway in each direction, through which the bridge's girders could be seen. The roadway was expanded in 1956 and 1959 to include the space allocated to the tramway tracks, adding an extra lane of traffic in each direction. The two sidewalks were outside the bridge proper.

During the construction seasons of 1957 and 1958, the span over the east channel of the river (the Warren truss
Truss bridge
A truss bridge is a bridge composed of connected elements which may be stressed from tension, compression, or sometimes both in response to dynamic loads. Truss bridges are one of the oldest types of modern bridges...

) was raised an additional 80 feet (to 120 feet). Traffic flow over the bridge was uninterrupted by this construction, through the installation of two Bailey bridge
Bailey bridge
The Bailey bridge is a type of portable, pre-fabricated, truss bridge. It was developed by the British during World War II for military use and saw extensive use by both British and the American military engineering units....


The structure was a toll bridge from its opening until 1962 and a toll plaza was located on the southern approach. The toll plaza area now houses the offices of the corporation that owns and operates the structure and the nearby Champlain Bridge. Tokens were issued for part of the period that tolls were collected.

During 2001 and 2002 the entire deck of the bridge was replaced. The sidewalks were also widened to a width of 8 feet (2.4 m), and the sidewalk on the western side of the bridge was made a bike path.

In 2004, a suicide prevention barrier was installed. Until then the bridge saw an average of 10 suicides a year.

There are four 3-metre high finial
The finial is an architectural device, typically carved in stone and employed decoratively to emphasize the apex of a gable or any of various distinctive ornaments at the top, end, or corner of a building or structure. Smaller finials can be used as a decorative ornament on the ends of curtain rods...

s, at the four high-points of the bridge, as architectural ornaments. Their shape resembles the Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is a puddle iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. Built in 1889, it has become both a global icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world...

 without being a replica.


During the summer season, the bridge is regularly completely closed to vehicular traffic for the fireworks competition
L'International des Feux Loto-Québec
L'International des Feux Loto-Québec, also known as the Montreal Fireworks Festival, is a major international fireworks competition. It has been held yearly in La Ronde over the Dolphins lake, since 1985, and is named after its main sponsor, Loto-Québec...

 held at La Ronde. It becomes foot traffic only, sometimes drawing crowds of 50,000+. In 2009 the competition runs fom mid-June till mid-August with events on Saturday nights only, commencing just before 10:00 PM. Bridge traffic is closed as of 8:00 PM, and is reopened when the bridge is cleared of pedestrians (usually between 11:00-11:30 PM).


Recently, this bridge has been shut down several times due to several protesters who have individually climbed on the superstructure of the bridge or on a sign in the Longueuil side of the bridge. Two of them were from the Fathers for Justice militant group, while a third claimed he was part of the group. Recently, a man wearing a Canadian flag climbed the structure of the bridge. Most of the protests led to massive traffic congestions during rush hour.

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