The recommendations of the Johnson Commission of Inquiry into the collapse of the overpass in Laval have already prompted the Quebec government to promise that it will invest billions of dollars in maintaining and renewing its bridges and roads.
On Friday, October 19, the day after the commission’s report was released, the government announced it would spend $11 billion over the next five years on bridge and road maintenance. The tragedy has brought about what the construction industry and various professional organizations have been pushing for several years: the recognition that road infrastructure is in a pitiful state and needs vastly more amounts of investment.
In that sense, the tragedy in Laval could end up having the same dramatic effect on stimulating an overhaul of the transportation sector, as the Walkerton tragedy in Ontario had on the water treatment industry.
The Quebec government also said in a news conference that it will establish an independent agency to look after the province’s 4,400 bridges and overpasses.
The government has not indicated yet whether it will use private partnerships for the road renewal work, as is being advocated by organizations such as the Montreal Economic Institute.
However, the Johnson commission recommended that the government should establish long term financing on the principle of “user payer.” The commission also said: “If the government chooses to involve the private sector, either in terms of financing or management, the participation should be conditional to the achievement of specific performance objectives and to the return of the structure in excellent condition, failing which clearly defined sanctions would apply.”