Structural Rehabilitation Project for the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge

Structural Rehabilitation Project for the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge

Lane Closures

For advance notice of lane closures on the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge, please refer to the Canada News Centre's Media Advisory page.

Information on upcoming lane closures will also be provided to local media via public notices.


Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) is responsible for 19 engineering assets across the country, including the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge and is carrying out a five-year major capital work plan to ensure they remain safe. As part of this plan, PWGSC is proceeding with the seismic retrofit of the bridge and the rehabilitation of deteriorated components.

The Macdonald-Cartier Bridge is a major urban transportation link between the cities of Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec. The bridge was built between 1964 and 1966; it spans the Ottawa River connecting King Edward Avenue in Ottawa to Highway 5 in Gatineau. The structure is the principal inter-provincial bridge in the National Capital Region (NCR) for commuters and commercial vehicles with an average annual daily traffic of 70,000 vehicles. The bridge is the most important inter-provincial bridge in the Ottawa-Gatineau area, playing a vital role for both business and tourism in the NCR.

Scope of the activities

The general scope of work for the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge Project is as follows:

  • Modify the existing structure to accommodate widened roadways and sidewalks to meet current Transportation Association of Canada code requirements;
  • Replace the exterior railings and sidewalk with new railings, wider multi-use sidewalk for use by pedestrians and cyclists, and roadway lighting;
  • Install new traffic barriers;
  • Install new median;
  • Seismically retrofit the bridge to meet current standards; and
  • Repair piers/abutments/substructure;

Previous activities

In the fall of 2011, PWGSC proceeded with a Request for Proposal for an engineering design consultant for the rehabilitation project of the bridge. This process was conducted in a fair, open and transparent manner through the Government Electronic Tendering System (MERX).

On January 27, 2012, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, along with John Baird, local member of Parliament for Ottawa West–Nepean, announced the award of a $1.8-million engineering design contract for the structural rehabilitation of the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge in the National Capital Region to the joint venture firm MMM Group Limited/CIMA+ SENC of Ottawa, Ontario. The contract was competitively awarded and will provide engineering design services as well as preparation of construction drawings and specifications for the structural rehabilitation of the bridge.

The construction drawings and specifications were completed in December 2013 and an Invitation to Tender (ITT) was posted on the Government Electronic Tendering System in January 2014.

On February 21, 2014, PWGSC announced the awarding of a $32.1-million contract to Pomerleau Inc. of Montreal for the rehabilitation of the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge.

Upcoming activities

Construction started in April 2014 and will be completed by fall 2015.

For further information on the recent announcement on public infrastructure investments, please see Harper Government invests in Canada's economy and jobs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is the scope of the work being undertaken?
A1. We will do a seismic retrofit of the bridge, replace the guardrails and the centre median replace and widen the sidewalks as well as the lighting and electrical system. We will also do local repairs to the abutments and piers, including components such as the roadway deck, expansion joints, drainage system, stringers, floor beams, box girders, coating system and approaches.

Q2. Is the bridge safe?
A2. Yes, it is. PWGSC has an extensive inspection program as well as a maintenance and capital program in order to address any deficiencies. Our priority is the safety of the public and the public infrastructure.

Q3. How do we know that this investment is enough to keep them safe?
A3. The majority of the assets owned by PWGSC are essential components of regional and provincial infrastructure; they serve thousands of Canadians daily and provide substantial local and regional benefits to the regions in which they are located. The public expects us to manage these assets responsibly and that is why our government is investing in major capital projects such as this one.

Q4. How much disruption to traffic will these projects cause?
A4. Our intention is to limit the impact on the users as much as possible, however temporary traffic disruptions are inevitable with projects of this magnitude and this rehabilitation project will ensure the integrity of the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge.

For the majority of the project, four lanes will be available for traffic; two lanes in each direction to accommodate traffic. However, the project has been phased so that at all times during weekdays, there will be 3 lanes available in the rush hour direction and 2 lanes available in the direction opposite to the rush hour. This means 3 lanes available towards Ottawa in the morning and 3 lanes available in the Gatineau direction in the afternoon. On occasion, when performing very specific construction activities, traffic could be limited to one lane in each direction but this will be limited to nights.

As per our practice to disseminate information to users we will issue public notices in advance and install electronic roadside signs which will keep users apprised of ongoing work. Our project page will also be kept current with the latest information.

Q5. Will cyclists be able to cross the bridge once the rehabilitation is completed?
A5. Yes. A 3.0 meter multi-use sidewalk for use by pedestrians and cyclists will be constructed on the downstream side (Gatineau bound-lane) as part of the rehabilitation work activities.

Q6. Is this the biggest rehabilitation project of the bridge to date?
A6. Yes, this is the biggest rehabilitation project on the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge to date.

Q7. Has PWGSC consulted regional stakeholders when preparing this rehabilitation project?
A7. PWGSC consulted various regional stakeholders during the planning of this project. We have also kept them abreast throughout project developments.

Q8. What speed limit will the bridge have?
A8. The speed limit on the bridge will be reduced to 50 km/h for the entire duration of the rehabilitation project.

Feedback and Contacts

If you would like to obtain more information, please contact PWGSC's Real Property Branch.