MONTREAL, QUE. - Canadian federal authorities are presently coping with the problems of replacing the half-century-old Champlain bridge, which links the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River to the Island of Montreal. Replacing the bridge could take as long as 10 years.
The bridge has been described as the most used bridge in Canada and is used by thousands of Americans and Canadians daily commuting to and from Montreal. The bridge is a crucial link to commerce in Eastern Canada. It represents millions of dollars in commercial trade now engaged in daily by industry and commerce based in the Eastern United States.
Those who examine and maintain the bridge say it is in a state of rapid deterioration and is a "hazard waiting to happen." The condition of the bridge is a federal government problem for which federal, provincial and municipal governmental officials are scrambling to find solutions.
While not as obvious, the problem is causing a multitude of worries for Americans who depend on the Champlain Bridge in numerous ways.
At the beginning of October, the Canadian Government announced it will assume responsibility for replacing the bridge, leaving a multitude of problems to be solved, the greatest of which is determining detour routes for the hundreds of vehicles that must cross the Saint Lawrence River daily. In addition, authorities say that other thoroughfares, including a tunnel and several other bridges, are over-taxed and in need of costly maintenance.
Ten years seems like a long time to wait for a new bridge, but as the Montreal Mayor Gerard Tremblay reasons, “There is no alternative.”
The cost of the project is expected to be around $5 billion.
Work on the replacement bridge should begin soon, allowing a narrow gap for users of the present deteriorating Champlain Bridge to plan alternative routes. Be assured, crossing tolls will be in place when a new Champlain Bridge becomes a reality.