The Quebec Bridge

Quebec bridgeThe Quebec Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in Quebec. It opened for traffic on December 3, 1917, after nearly two decades of planning and construction. It was major engineering achievement in its day, was considered as the eighth Wonder of the World upon its completion. Providing a vital link between the lower Saint Lawrence River and Quebec City, the Quebec Bridge remains as one of the greatest bridges in the world.

Design and structure

The Quebec Bridge is a riveted steel truss structure. It is 3,239 feet (987 meters) long, 94 feet (29 meters) wide, and 340 feet (104 meters) high. Each cantilever arm is 580 feet (177 meters) long and both support a 640 feet (195 meters) central structure, for a total span of 1800 feet (549 meters). The record the builders of the Quebec Bridge set still stands: it remains the longest railroad cantilever bridge span ever built in the world.

The collapse of 1907 and 1916

In 1907, all eyes were on the construction of the world’s grandest cantilever bridge. Little did people know that they would also witness one of the largest bridge disasters in history. On August 29, all hell broke loose when the bridge’s south arm and large part of its central section collapsed into the river, killing 75 workers. This disaster happened in just 15 seconds.

The second collapse happened in 1916. Much more caution was taken in constructing the Quebec Bridge after the 1907 collapse. The new design was for a bridge with one long cantilever span, but more massive one. On the tragic day of September 11, the central span fell into the river while it was being raised. The collapse took the lives of 13 workers.

Completion

The Quebec Bridge was finally completed in August 1917, with total cost reaching $25 million. It opened for rail traffic in December 1919. At present, it accommodates three highway lanes (it had no highway lane until 1929, one until 1949, and two lanes until 1993), a rail line (it had two lines until 1949), and a pedestrian walkway (it originally had two). For a time, the bridge carried a streetcar line.

Site of historic significance

In 1995, the Québec Bridge was recognized by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC) recognized as a site of national historic significance. It was recognized not only for its historical value, but also for its architectural value. The bridge represents an innovative feat of Canadian engineers.

 
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