07/16/2014 09:14 EDT | Updated 09/15/2014 05:59 EDT

Recycling to help limit cost of Champlain Bridge demolition

The federal government is hoping to recover part of the cost of demolishing the Champlain Bridge by recycling and selling materials recovered from the aging structure, including cement, steel, copper and aluminium.

The cost of dismantling the bridge stands at around $161 million, a figure that is likely to climb.

A study conducted three years ago estimated that the Champlain Bridge contains 165,000 tonnes of concrete and another 13,300 tonnes of steel.

The federal government believes that could translate into tens of millions of dollars in savings on the cost of taking it down.

“It’s difficult to estimate the exact value of the material, but there are certainly several million dollars in recyclable materials on the bridge,” said Infrastructure Canada’s Marc Brazeau, who is overseeing the Champlain Bridge project.

Brazeau said the steel could be melted down and repurposed, and the cement crushed for use as aggregate elsewhere.

Demolition of the bridge is scheduled to begin in 2019 or 2020.

Rather than dynamiting the bridge, the decision was taken to dismantle it section by section in order to limit the impact on the St. Lawrence River and the environment.

"Everything will be deconstructed, piece by piece. The bridge will be cut into sections, transported by barge, and dismantled off-site," Brazeau told Radio-Canada.