Ottawa opens renovated Chief William Commanda Bridge

Ontario Construction News staff writer

The City of Ottawa, area First Nations, and members of the Commanda family celebrated the official opening of the Chief William Commanda Bridge last month.

“I am delighted to mark the official opening of the Chief William Commanda Bridge, a multi-use pathway that will now act as a vital active transportation route for residents, commuters, and visitors alike,” said Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe. “The Chief William Commanda bridge will stand as a lasting testament, ensuring that future generations never forget the significant journey we are making towards reconciliation.”

The bridge connects communities through a network of pathways on both sides of the river.

“It is also a powerful symbol that reminds us that we are living on unceded Indigenous territory, that Anishinabe Algonquin people continue to be stewards of this land, and the important collaboration that must continue on the path towards reconciliation,” a City of Ottawa statement says.

bridge map commanda ottawa“The ability to move easily between Ottawa and Gatineau is very important to residents in our nation’s capital. This is especially true for active transportation users who have to share the road with cars. The Government of Canada is pleased to have supported the Chief William Commanda Bridge. It is a safe, accessible and environmentally friendly option for pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders and users of mobility aids to travel across the Ottawa River and beyond,” said Greg Fergus, MP for Hull-Aylmer.

Project highlights:

  • Construction started on the rehabilitation project in fall 2021.
  • Work included construction of a multi-use pathway (MUP) across the existing, out-of-service Chief William Commanda Bridge and the rehabilitation of the substructure of the bridge such as pier work and stone masonry repairs/repointing on abutments.
  • The total estimated project budget (for both the MUP and the substructure rehabilitation work) is $23.9 million, with approximately $15 million from the City of Ottawa and approximately $8.9 million from the Government of Canada through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) Public Transit Infrastructure Stream (PTIS).
  • The MUP connects to the City of Ottawa’s Trillium Pathway to the south and the NCC Voyageurs’ Pathway in Gatineau to the north.
  • The construction of this new MUP will improve active transportation between Ottawa and Gatineau and will serve as an interprovincial link for cycling commuters, recreational users, and pedestrians.

The bridge was constructed in 1879 and the superstructure was reconstructed in 1926. The bridge is formed by two structures (north and south) separated by an island – comprised of six spans in the south structure and seven spans in the north structure. The clear width of the structure is approximately 5 m carrying one track only. The total crossing length is 989 meters.

The City of Ottawa purchased the railway bridge from Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in 2005 for a future, longer-term transit crossing. The Chief William Commanda Bridge is being retained as a future rail transit bridge in the three-year rail network plan as filed with the Canadian Transportation Agency. In 2013, the Bridge was identified as a future major pathway in the transportation masterplan.


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