Québec could set the tone - Aluminum in bridges: a potential new market

MONTREAL, Nov. 27, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - The Aluminum Association of Canada (AAC) released a market study today which shows that half of the 1,000 to 1,400 short span bridges to be repaired or replaced every year over the next decade in Eastern Canada and the northeastern United States are ideal to incorporate shop-fabricated, aluminum bridge decks.

The study supported by the ministère des Finances et de l'Économie du Québec and the AAC suggests, "there are more than 56,000 road bridges in Canada, and about 603,000 in the United States; most were built between 1945 and 1975," stated Martin Hartlieb, co-author of the study and President of Viami International. "Several of them will soon be structurally unsound, if not already. In our analysis of 86,500 bridges belonging to provincial and municipal highways, we noticed that in the study area, close to 20% of them are already structurally weak."

"This study sheds light on the potential use of aluminum to maintain and repair bridges, and to consider a new market for our companies in the processing of aluminium as well as for designers, engineers and entrepreneurs in the construction field," advised the Minister for the Politique industrielle et à la Banque de développement économique du Québec, Ms. Elaine Zakaïb. The participation of Québec businesses in this market fits into the guidelines for Québec's aluminum industrial cluster, which aims at increasing the processing of aluminum in Québec. "

Proportionately, most of the inadequate infrastructures are located in Québec; some 40% of targeted bridges need to be repaired or rebuilt. The aluminum industry is, therefore, counting on Québec to develop this market which in turn could provide significant export potential. However, it is within the provincial jurisdiction that the AAC must maintain the most hope to see aluminum fill a key role in renovation and repair efforts. In fact, the joint study conducted by The Technology Strategies Group and Viami International - involving 10 states and provinces - identified only one ongoing program to build a demo bridge with an extruded aluminum deck: at Saint-Ambroise, Saguenay-Lac Saint-Jean. The success of the project could swiftly lead to a larger project, the authors say, "Québec would, then, become the North American leader" by using aluminum in bridge construction.

Other innovative initiatives have been revealed elsewhere. In Florida (outside the analyzed area), the State in 2014 will conduct experiments by using aluminum decks on drawbridges. The Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada is also looking at the possibility of using aluminum as an alternative to iron to rebuild the drawbridge over the Burlington canal, in Ontario. Its reconstruction is scheduled within the next five years.

Québec - a leader?

AAC President Jean Simard invites structure manufacturers, owners of these projects, engineering firms and civil engineering consultants to adapt to aluminum to generate a shift within the next five years.

"We have to take advantage of the situation in which our North American companies find themselves in order to upgrade a large number of bridges and help leverage sustainable, recyclable materials that resist low temperatures and are malleable," said Mr. Simard. "I am, therefore, inviting the province to innovate and to be a leader in promoting aluminum. We have a great opportunity to prove that aluminum, a true Québec product, may be technically viable and economically competitive for short-span bridges. By doing this, Québec will open up a broad North American market for manufacturers. We must seize this business opportunity!"

The market study demonstrated that local manufacturers could be competitive suppliers of aluminum bridge decks within a 1,000 kilometer radius from Québec. This includes: Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Massachusetts and Ontario and New Brunswick, as shown in the Viami International and The Technology Strategies Group document.

The full and short versions of the market study are available on the AAC Web site at:

SOURCE: Aluminum Association of Canada

For further information:

Elizabeth Boileau: elizboi@videotron.ca or 514-591-7914


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