The Quebec government will implement 12 short-term measures to help alleviate traffic congestion on the Champlain Bridge while one lane is closed for month-long repairs.

Starting Monday, commuters will notice a reserved bus lane across the span, more train and metro cars to and from Montreal’s South Shore, and extra parking spots for car-poolers.

“Our primary concern is people’s safety, and the fluidity of traffic,” said Quebec Transport Minister Sylvain Gaudreault.

The closure of the southbound lane comes after workers found a crack in one of the girders supporting the Champlain Bridge.

12 measures:

Public Transit & Reserved Bus Lanes:

  • Adding 3 cars to every STM metro on the yellow line between Longueuil and Montreal.
  • Keeping one reserved bus lane — toward Montreal — during the morning rush hour.
  • Adding an extra wagon on every AMT commuter train that departs from Candiac and Mont-Saint-Hilaire during morning and afternoon rush hours.
  • Creating additional parking spots for car-poolers at the Chevrier and Panama Terminal parking lots in Brossard.
  • Giving buses the right of way in the left lane on the ramp of the Bonaventure Autoroute near Autoroute 15, towards the Champlain Bridge.
  • Distributing free Trial Opus cards — near busy intersections close to the Champlain Bridge — to drivers and occasional public transit users.

Increasing capacity of other spans:

  • Extending the hours of the one-way lanes on the Victoria Bridge — heading towards the South Shore — from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. instead of the usual 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Extending the hours of a third lane on the Jacques Cartier Bridge — heading towards Montreal in the mornings, and heading towards the South Shore in the afternoon — on evenings and weekends.

Management of works and repairs:

  • Postponing the overnight work on the southbound Lafontaine tunnel.
  • Postponing the repair work slated for the weekend of Nov. 15 on the Mercier Bridge, which would have caused a lane closure
  • Rapidly completing the work on the South Shore on the approach for the Lafontaine tunnel, to clear the work sites and offer commuters a fluid alternative to the Champlain Bridge
  • Observing traffic flow to offer solutions in problematic areas.

All three levels of government have been working on the plan, and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre says he thinks these measures will work well for commuters.

“Today is all about what are we going to do for the fluidity, and what are we going to do to make sure that the security is not at stake, and we are satisfied,” Coderre said.

The Champlain bridge is at the end of its lifespan, and a new bridge will be built by 2021.

Until then, the federal government insists the Champlain Bridge is safe - in spite of the crack workers found, and the sudden lane closure.

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Federal Minster of Infrastructure Denis Lebel insists the Champlain Bridge is safe to use while repairs go on until mid-December. (CBC)

“The people who use the bridge are safe when they’re on the bridge. If something is dangerous, they will close the bridge. When the bridge is open, that’s because it’s safe,” said federal Minister of Infrastructure Denis Lebel.

Lebel also hinted that the new span could come sooner than 2021.

“We’re working on that. We will communicate that in the weeks to come.”