Officials with the Champlain Bridge corporation say repairs that were originally planned for mid-December, may come as early as this weekend.
The repairs would include the installation of a 'super beam', or a reinforcement beam, underneath the cracked one.
The corroded beam has been the root of traffic headaches since it was discovered two weeks ago. The crack has since grown to 2.7 metres long, and about 1.75 millimetres wide, prompting officials to shut down the two lanes normally reserved for south-bound traffic.
Officials say that once the beam is installed this weekend, traffic should get back to normal.
But before things get better, drivers can expect some major disruptions for the weekend.
It's expected to take two days to install the beam. The bridge will be reduced to one lane in each direction as cranes are used to hoist the beam onto the bridge.
Morning commuters face hour-and-a-half wait
South Shore commuters were stuck waiting at least an hour-and-a-half this morning, with only two lanes open in each direction on the Champlain Bridge.
Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair told CBC Montreal's Daybreak host Mike Finnerty that the government must act quickly to replace the aging bridge.
"We don't want to get taken to the cleaners in terms of cost, but it is a crisis situation," he said.
The replacement bridge is set to be completed in 2021, although federal Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel has said they are looking at options to speed up the process.
On-island commuters face delays
On Monday, the headaches weren't limited to the South Shore. Public transit officials are warning commuters on the island to expect delays as well.
Which metro stops will be affected?
Which bus lines will be affected?
- LaSalle station: 12, 21, 58, 61, 71, 108.
- McGill station: 61, 168.
- Papineau station: 10, 15, 34, 150.
- Express lines: 410, 420, 427, 430.
- 747 line.
For the time being, officials with the Champlain Bridge corporation are urging drivers to take public transit and avoid the bridge, if possible.
That means metro cars will be more packed than normal.
"Because of unusually high ridership coming from the Longueuil—Université-de-Sherbrooke station, transferring at Berri-UQAM may be more difficult. If your route allows you to avoid transferring there, we encourage you to do so," the STM said in a statement.
The STM has added extra space to the yellow metro line, although the STM warns that it could still be crowded during rush hour.
Spokesman Jean-Vincent Lacroix said commuters will have to be patient.
"It's going to be difficult of course ... We'll see how people react. We hope a lot of people will decide to take buses and the public transit option," he said.
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