More Champlain Bridge reports withheld, Rae charges
Interim federal Liberal Leader Bob Rae is accusing the federal government of sitting on more information about the state of Montreal's deteriorating Champlain Bridge.
His charge follows the release of a consultant's report on the span Wednesday that calls for sweeping changes.
"I am firmly convinced that there … are other studies, and I'm firmly convinced the government is in possession and knows about studies which talk very directly about the condition of the current bridge and why it has to be replaced," Rae told CBC News in Montreal Thursday.
Rae, the Liberal transportation critic, was in Montreal to comment on the federal government's release of a report Wednesday calling for the replacement of the troubled bridge that connects Montreal Island to the south shore of the St. Lawrence River.
Ottawa made the document public Wednesday, just 24-hours after Federal Transport Minister Denis Lebel said he would not release it.
The report recommends the construction of a new bridge, at a cost of nearly $1.3-billion.
The proposed span would have three lanes in each direction. The report also talked about the possibility of replacing the bridge with a tunnel.
NDP also speaking out
Rae, who called for the public release of all information about the bridge, said the federal government has stalled debate over it for too long. He hopes the attention focused on the bridge now will prompt a quick decision.
The federal opposition NDP is also calling on the government to quickly order the construction of a new Champlain Bridge, now that a consultant's report has been released.
NDP transport critic Jamie Nicholls said he agrees with many of the recommendations in the report released Wednesday but said a long-term solution must involve alternatives to cars.
"For me, it makes sense because as soon as you add more lanes, they quickly fill up with auto traffic," said Nicholls. "If we're looking for a sustainable solution for the future, then we're moving more towards public transit solutions and getting more cars off the road."
Federal flip-flop Wednesday
The report's release came after Lebel, said a day earlier that the report would not be made public because he didn't want people to worry unnecessarily.
"If we made the report public it might be misinterpreted by people who don't understand the subject," said Lebel. "It might create unnecessary fears. It's not time to create public insecurity." He said what the public needs to know is that the bridge repairs will be done.
Lebel was scheduled to hold a news conference in the Saguenay area of Quebec on Thursday.
He's expected to comment on the report that was released Wednesday.