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Federal government agrees to major new bridge across St. Lawrence

In the face of growing concerns over the condition of the busy Champlain Bridge in Montreal, the federal government has announced that it will build a new bridge across the St. Lawrence River.


In the face of growing concerns over the condition of the busy Champlain Bridge in Montreal, the federal government has announced that it will build a new bridge across the St. Lawrence River.

The Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, announced the plans on October 5, saying that the government had reviewed pre-feasibility and assessment studies and concluded that a new bridge is necessary in Montreal.

Over the coming months the government is going to be examining the creation of a public-private partnership to build the bridge and the use of tolls to finance it.

Until then, Lebel promised to ensure that the Champlain bridge remains safe. The government has announced $380-million in funding to maintain the bridge since 2009. The repair work is ongoing.

The six-lane Champlain Bridge is the busiest vehicular bridge in Canada, carrying an estimated 11 million public transit commuters, 60 million vehicles and $20 billion in international trade annually. Completed in 1962, the crossing is 6-kilometres in total, connecting Montreal by Nun’s Island to the South Shore. It consists of a main cantilever structural steel truss section and two prestressed concrete approach sections.

In March 2011, consulting engineers Delcan provided a report “The Future of the Champlain Bridge” to Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated, a federal agency. In the executive summary Delcan said their “impression” of this lifeline bridge was that it “has many deficiencies, some of which are very significant …”.

The CBC reported that the new bridge could cost $5 billion. It ran a poll that showed 70% of the respondents believed tolls should be used to pay for the cost.