Built in 1887 or earlier, the Taillefer Bridge spanning the Chateauguay River between Elgin and Hinchinbrooke is to be restored to its original state and will eventually be reopened to small vehicle traffic on the Gilmore Road. The decision represents a complete reversal on the part of the Ministry of Transport (MTQ), which had announced thatthe structure, known locally as the Gilmore Bridge, would be dismantled in 2020.
“It is a victory,” says Elgin’s director general, Guylaine Carrière, of the lengthy intervention she and the municipal council waged to preserve the structure. “I knew people wanted to see this bridge reopened, so I kept on them,” she says, recalling how the municipality petitioned the government to produce a new heritage assessment after determining the bridge had a very high heritage index.
Highest possible value
In fact, the new assessment produced by the MTQ has determined the bridge has a heritage index of 100, or the highest value that can be given to such a structure. According to Carrière, the report suggests the heritage index is so high, the Taillefer Bridge should be considered of national interest. The report concludes by stating that the Montérégie region and all of Quebec should be proud to have such a monument on its territory. As a result, the MTQ confirmed during a recent meeting with Elgin representatives that the bridge would be saved.
“We are very, very happy. But we also know it is not going to be done next year, or even the year after,” Carrière says. “Everything needs to be redone: the abutments, the bridge itself,” she explains, noting there are a lot of questions to answer about the extent of the work, as the condition of the span has deteriorated since it was closed to traffic in 2009.
The metal structure of the bridge is identified as an eight-panel pin-connected Pratt through-truss. It has not been modified since its original construction in the late 1800s, when bridge construction transitioned from wooden components to all-steel designs. “It is in poor condition,” Carrière admits, noting there are also concerns about who may be able to complete the restoration work.
“This is just the beginning,” she adds, saying she is especially pleased for those living along the Gilmore Sideroad who will be able to use the bridge once again. “I really did not want the same thing to happen as what did on the Second Concession,” she says, referring to the dismantling of the Kensington Bridge.
Known to locals as the Gavin Bridge, that structure was a metal five-panel pin-connected Pratt through-truss that once spanned the Trout River in Elgin. It was taken down by the MTQ in February 2015. Carrière laments the fact the municipality was not able to save the Gavin Bridge, suggesting it likely would have had a significant heritage index as well.