A New Champlain

Photo: Marcio Cabral de Moura

The Champlain Bridge is falling down – or so the government fears. An announcement in recent weeks revealed a plan to rebuild the ancient structure. The Canadian government identified the span as a critical span to much of the east coast’s economy as it is used to transport good to, from and through Montreal.

The plan includes a $5 billion investment from Ottawa, will create 30,000 jobs and will take an estimated ten years to complete.

The projected figures I just mentioned are unusually high. The Confederation Bridge which is significantly longer cost less to build, didn’t require as many people and took much less time to build.

As a traffic reporter, I watch traffic volume change everyday. We need a new span sooner. More and more families are moving to the south shore because owning a home in Montreal has become unreasonably expensive. This means more volume getting to and from Montreal. And there aren’t any other spans that can substitute. The Mercier is a nightmare, Victoria is narrow and traffic flow is interrupted when trains cross, the Jacques-Cartier inbound spills right into downtown street and the Lafontaine tunnel is an abysmal detour to the east end of Montreal.

Aside from creating more traffic gridlock for Montreal motorists, Ottawa is saying the new span will be a pubic-private partnership. This translates to a similar situation as highway 25 linking Montreal to Laval – a toll bridge.

Commuters are up in arms saying that they won’t be encouraged to use the new bridge once construction is complete.

Brossard city councilor Alexandre Plante told the CBC it seems “the government has run out of money,” citing why it can’t be open to all motorists free of charge.

But is a toll bridge necessarily a bad idea?

It can be expensive if you’re heading back and forth using the span several times a day. However, not a bad idea if you consider some of the runs raised will go back to municipal infrastructure to support the increased volume on other spans.

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Categories: Traffic

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