Segments in this Video

Introduction: A Giant on the River (03:13)


Montreal's Samuel De Champlain Bridge is the city’s most ambitious engineering project in a quarter century. It stretches 3 kilometers across the Saint Lawrence River, and it had to be completed in three and a half years.

Logistics (02:38)

Signature on the St. Lawrence Group, a consortium of top engineering firms, has been tasked with designing the new Champlain Bridge. Any delay beyond Dec. 1, 2018 will be costly. The bridge is expected to last 125 years.

Building Foundation (04:00)

Digging for the main pylon has already begun by November 2015, and Engineer Frederic Guitard oversees the project’s cable-stayed section. Forty-two shafts are drilled along the Saint Lawrence Seaway to support the main pylon.

Placing Footings (03:15)

The foundation for the main pylon is nearly finished by April 2016. Another team readies foundations that will support the bridge between Nun's Island and the cable-stayed section. Temperature must be closely monitored to prevent cracks.

Challenging Building Conditions (03:07)

Construction Manager Richard Munday explains difficult aspects of construction. A special catamaran is used to place footing No. 21 in a part of the river where the current is strongest. Divers must clear debris before the footing can be secured.

Assembling the Segments (04:24)

Alex Demers is under pressure to figure out how to transport large sections of the bridge from specialized plants in Quebec and Spain. It is a problem when his team learns the old bridge is too fragile to support the weight of the heaviest pieces.

Cross Beam Installation (03:10)

Engineer Madwan Nadler travels to Montreal for a site visit. He explains the design of a central piece that is being installed. The construction team must pick up the pace to make up for delays.

Building Complications (02:22)

Weather conditions, new regulations, and a general construction strike slow progress. The team will have to wait until July to hoist the pylon's upper cross beam into position; Guitard explains elements of its design.

Bridge Aesthetics (03:49)

Guitard provides a tour of the bridge's inner workings. Several pier caps are put in place, each weighing 200 tons. Architect Paul Ove Jensen explains his design, which includes lanes in each direction and one for public transportation.

Transporting Segments (03:04)

Starting in the fall of 2017, engineer Daniel Genest’s team must work twice as hard to finish the bridge on time. Demers must find a way to ship 601 box girders to the worksite, each the size of two rail cars.

Winter's Hazards (02:05)

Weather conditions and extreme cold slow progress in December 2017, leaving equipment and barges frozen in place. Once ice breaks, Simon Turcot and other spotters look out for dangerous chunks floating down the river.

Main Span Construction (04:10)

Work has just begun on the most critical and delicate section of the bridge in March 2018. Voussoirs must be lifted into place, each weighing 850 tons; the bridge’s cable stays are among the biggest ever installed.

Avoiding Dangerous Ice Formation (03:43)

Precautions must be taken to ensure the bridges stays can withstand wind and freezing rain. Engineers hope to avoid dangerous conditions commuters faced while crossing Vancouver's Port Mann Bridge in December 2012. Sensors attached to stays track tension.

Work Stoppage (02:04)

The Canadian government grants a three-week extension in April 2018, but crane operators go on strike in June. East Approach Operations Manager Stephane Pereira explains a new strategy that has been implemented to save time.

Passed Deadline (06:24)

The crew applies a waterproof seal to the bridge's surface to extend its lifetime, but an early cold snap causes another delay. The bridge's structure is completed in April 2019. A drainage system will help prevent damage.

Credits: A Giant on the River (00:31)

Credits: A Giant on the River

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A Giant On The River

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



It’s a race against the clock. The world’s most skilled civil engineers are working to complete one of North America’s largest, most complicated bridge construction projects, in record time. With 60 million vehicles projected to be travelling over the new Champlain Bridge each year, an extraordinary team of builders have come together to create and execute a design unlike any bridge of its kind. Along with the complex and ambitious construction, crews must also continue to allow marine traffic through the St. Lawrence Seaway throughout the process. Follow the many challenges of an architectural miracle. But will the team be able to complete the project in just three and a half years? 

Length: 52 minutes

Item#: BVL190418

Copyright date: ©2019

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