On our way to a new passenger terminal !

Our guides : Gilbert Pomerleau, superintendent, and Hugo Leblanc, head of worksite
health and safety of the passenger terminal construction site. The project is managed
by the construction manager, Pomerleau Inc.

The Port of Montreal will give its city the new Iberville Passenger Terminal in time for its 375th anniversary celebrations. Work is well underway on the on the construction site in Old Montreal. 

On this July 6th, the sun is brightly shining and it’s 30O in Old Montreal, to the delight of visiting vacationers. But workers on the passenger terminal work site are feeling the heat! “The guys are really earning their pay today,” says site superintendent Gilbert Pomerleau.

Alexandra Pier is teeming with trucks, cranes, bulldozers and drills, all seamlessly orchestrated by the project manager. Activity is at its peak. The demolition stage is very advanced: Almost nothing is left of the old Iberville Passenger Terminal and Mariners’ House. As far as Alexandra Pier is concerned, it’s getting a serious makeover.

Guided tour of the site in 10 photos


1.    This is the former site of Mariners’ House, a non-profit organization that welcomes foreign seafarers when they come ashore on their stopover in the Port of Montreal. It was completely demolished. “We had to tear it down but keep the electricity network in place, which we need to power the ships docked in the Old Port,” said Gilbert Pomerleau. Carrying out the demolition turned into precision work. Its reconstruction will get underway shortly. “The most intense period on the construction site will start in September and continue through December. We want to complete the shell of the new building by the end of 2016, so we can finish the work inside over the winter,” said Gilbert Pomerleau.


2.    Under the former passenger terminal there was a storage area. It will be converted into premises adjacent to the passenger terminal.


3.    Workers are busy consolidating the soil, which must be extremely strong to hold up the future building, which is topped with a green roof terrace open to the public. Here, a worker is using a small bulldozer to introduce a hose into a metal cylinder (pile) driven into the ground. Later, the concrete mixer will connect the pipe to inject concrete into the cylinder. This will give the whole future station a pile foundation to strengthen its weight-bearing capacity. Only then can concrete be poured throughout to form the basement floor slab for the future hall.


4.    Work is progressing well on the pier. It is currently being reinforced by means of steel anchors. To achieve this, oblique holes are drilled in the walls of the pier (up to 18 metres into the rock). A caisson, a type of metal pipe casing, is then slid into these openings.


5.   In this caisson, a 46-metre long steel anchor is being inserted, like those seen in the photo. Concrete is then poured into the caisson to lock the anchoring in place.


6.    The result is conclusive: it's solid! It has to be, to support the activity around Alexandra Pier and to keep the huge cruise ships securely docked there. Sometimes violent winds from the direction of the river hit the ships, as if they want to pull them away from the pier. The mooring lines get stretched to the extreme and exert incredible tension on the pier. It has to be strong as a rock. The dock will be held steady by 108 inclined anchorages!



7.    All around the pier, vertical piles are being installed, driven to a depth of four metres below the floor of the river. First, the hole is drilled using a giant drill attached to the cable of a crane, which itself is installed on a work platform just above water level.


8.    The renovation project includes lowering the end of Alexandra Pier to offer proximity to the river. The green arrow shows how far down the platform will be lowered. Quite a difference from the present height!


9.     The workers must respect strict safety measures. “In addition to steel-reinforced boots, a helmet and gloves, they wear a floater vest over highly visible coveralls. “Even when it’s 30 in the sun!” said Hugo Leblanc. A lifeboat is always at hand during work in case a worker falls into the water.

Note the long orange buoy that surrounds the entire pier where work is being done. This is the turbidity curtain, a large swath of fabric that holds in the materials and residues from drilling that stay suspended there. That’s how this curtain protects the river water.



10.    Reading project plans has come a long way at Pomerleau! Large blueprints have given way from paper to touch screens that make it possible to enlarge a detail, measure distances, overlay drawings, etc. 

After seven months of work, the site is progressing well under the supervision of its general contractor Pomerleau Inc. and the Port of Montreal’s project manager, Dany Cattiaux: “This project has a high level of complexity and presents lots of challenges to the team.”

For example, special attention must be paid to the project’s impacts on the surrounding community. That’s why the preparatory work was carried out during the winter so as not to interfere with summer activities that take place in the Old Port of Montreal and on De La Commune Street. 

In addition, immense ships were docked on both sides of the pier to serve as acoustic and visual screens. They considerably alleviate the unavoidable inconveniences related to a construction site.

“I’m proud of the people who are working flat out to make this project a success for the Port of Montreal, but above all, of the team spirit on the work site, rain or shine,” said Dany Cattiaux.

For more information on the project to rehabilitate Alexandra Pier and Iberville Passenger Terminal, click here.