Since its construction, a number of ongoing repair programs have been carried out on the Champlain Bridge and Bonaventure Expressway. Some of the major programs involved repairs to the roadway, prestressed concrete girders, steel structures and bridge piers, and cleaning and painting of the bridge.
What proved to be the greatest engineering challenge was definitely the replacement of the main deck (section 6) in 1993. The work essentially involved replacing the original reinforced concrete deck and some steel support elements, and installing a new orthotropic steel deck with an asphalt surface over a distance of 2,505 feet 11 inches (764 m), nearly 25% of the total length of the bridge. In all, 254 panels had to be installed, the longest ones measuring 63 feet 11 inches (19.5 m) in length, 26 feet 10 inches (8.2 m) in width and weighing 42 tons. Approximately 5,000 tons of steel were used to build the panels.
This project to replace the concrete deck on the main span of the bridge with orthotropic panels was the first time that orthotropic technology had been used to repair a bridge in Quebec. Imported from the United States and Europe, the technology had generally been used in bridge construction.
Benefits of this Method:
- Lighter and more resistant than conventional concrete decks.
- Increases the structure’s load capacity.
- Offers longer life span (approximately 60 years) and requires less maintenance than conventional concrete decks.
- Bridge can remain open to traffic during the work.
The panels were installed at night and at least two out of the six lanes remained open to traffic. In the morning, all six lanes had to be open to traffic by 6 am, or the contractor was fined.
The work began in 1990 and was completed three and a half years later, in the fall of 1993. It was carried out by Simard-Beaudry Limitée at a cost of $40 million. Consulting engineer services were provided by Lavalin Inc. (SNC–Lavalin).