The Government of Canada has announced it will provide $158 million to improve the safety of the Champlain Bridge corridor in Montreal. The 1960s-era bridge is a key component in the Ontario-Quebec corridor and is the busiest bridge in Canada, currently handling 60 million vehicles a year.
A report in the Montreal Gazette said that an Ontario engineering company had done an assessment of the bridge for Transport Canada and warned that it “has had its day.” The article said the leaked engineering report indicated the bridge could not continue to support the heavy traffic without risks of partial collapse of a concrete section, and possibly the collapse of one of its steel cantilever spans.
While the government says it is still awaiting the final version of the engineers’ report, it has announced that it is prepared to consider “all options, including replacing the bridge.” The government says: “Although the Champlain Bridge is safe and secure for all Canadians and travellers, it requires additional repair work to ensure that it remains safe and secure for everyone using it, and that it can continue to carry the volume of traffic forecast.”
The Champlain Bridge is six kilometres long, crossing the Saint Lawrence River and connecting Montreal to Nun’s Island and the South Shore. The corridor includes the Bonaventure Expressway and Highway 16. It is owned and operated by Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated (JCCBI), a crown corporation under the portfolio of the Minister of Transport. The funds announced last week are in addition to $212 million already earmarked for the corridor in 2009 under Canada’s Economic Action Plan.
The federal government is providing JCCBI with another $70 million for other structures it operates, including the Jacques Cartier Bridge, the Honore Mercier Bridge, the Melocheville tunnel and the Champlain Bridge Ice Control Structure.