The federal government has tapped Danish architect Poul Ove Jensen with the challenging task of designing the new Champlain Bridge. 

Federal Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel said the government has decided to forgo an international design competition, which will mean the construction can begin three years earlier than planned. 


The current Champlain Bridge is under 24/7 surveillance as a safety precaution. (CP photo) (CBC)

Poul Ove Jensen is the head of bridges for the Copenhagen-based architectural design firm Dissing+Weitling.

He has been responsible for the design and engineering of 200 bridges in 30 countries. 

Reached by CBC News on Monday, Jensen refused an interview and referred all questions to the federal government.

Yesterday Lebel announced that Arup, an international design and engineering firm with a Canadian office, had hired Jensen to help them design and produce the new Champlain Bridge.

The company and Jensen had worked together on a number of other bridge projects around the world.

The list of Jensen's design accomplishments include the Oresund Fixed Link between Denmark and Sweden, the Oakland Bay Bridge in the San Francisco Bay area and Hong Kong’s Stonecutters’ Bridge.

Expect tolls on bridge, Lebel says

Yesterday, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said it was “good news” that Montrealers would get their bridge sooner than later.

He said he knew the downside to a faster-built bridge was no design competition, but he said he still hopes Montreal can gets its signature bridge.

“Montreal is a city of design, it’s a capital of design,” he said.

Coderre also said he was opposed to the idea of tolls. However, Lebel told Daybreak host Mike Finnerty on Monday morning that a toll on the bridge is non-negotiable.


The Champlain Bridge's brand-new superbeam got installed over the weekend of Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. (Radio-Canada)

“We have said right from the beginning, no toll no bridge,” he said.

With more than 60 million trips taken over the Champlain Bridge annually, it is Canada’s busiest span. It’s the main lifeline for people commuting between the South Shore and Montreal, as well as for travel and trade along the Eastern Seaboard.

The existing Champlain Bridge opened in 1962 and is currently under 24/7 surveillance to make sure it’s safe. The bridge got a superbeam over the weekend to help reinforce it against a crack that developed.

The bridge was closed for 14 hours on Saturday while workers placed and fastened the superbeam to the southbound side of the Champlain.