Building (materials) to last

25 November 2019

When it was conceived in 1955, Canada’s Champlain Bridge followed a rugged truss design that largely relied on steel. The design is strong, simple and characteristic of its era. The bridge quickly became the country’s busiest, hosting 50 million vehicle crossings per year. However designers hadn’t anticipated the impact of road salt, which came into widespread use just as the bridge was opened. Over time, salt began to corrode the bridge’s steel infrastructure, demanding ever more frequent maintenance. So when authorities started planning to build its replacement, in 2013, they asked for a stronger bridge that required less maintenance and would offer a service life of 125 years, or more than twice as long as its predecessor.

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Materials delivered by Lafarge Canada played a big part in meeting those expectations. More than 165,000 m3 of high performance concrete, or 22,000 truckloads, were delivered throughout the project. Concrete of these specifications had never been used before in North America – meeting criteria of both low heat release and high performance compressive strength – both critical for the intended 125-year lifespan. Lafarge Canada also supplied more than 1.5 million tons of sustainably-sourced aggregates to construct the piers and surrounding road infrastructure. An additional 700,000 tons were delivered for the central jetty.