Pont de Québec bridge's paint job spurs battle between CN, governments

Quebec City’s rusty Pont de Québec is in need of a new paint job, but CN Rail says it’s not its job to pay for it.

All 3 levels of government agreed to kick in $100M, but CN says it's not its job to finish painting bridge

The rusting Pont du Québec has been named a National Historic Site, however governments and CN have been unable to agree on who should pay to finish repainting it. (Jacques Boissinot/CP)

Quebec City’s rusty Pont de Québec is in need of a new paint job, but CN Rail says it’s not its job to pay for it.

Federal Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel (centre) and municipal and provincial representatives announced their $100-million contribution to the Pont du Québec repainting project on Friday. (Radio-Canada)

On Friday political representatives for municipal, provincial and federal governments made a joint announcement, promising to pitch in a combined $100 million to give the bridge a makeover — if Canadian National Railway matched their contribution.

“Now they have to confirm that they’ll pay the other 50 per cent, that’s it. They have no reason to refuse that,” said Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume.

CN, however, said it has done enough already, in a statement issued Friday evening. The company had started painting the historic bridge about a decade ago but stopped when it ran out of money.

A recent court ruling sided with the company, saying it wasn’t the railway company’s responsibility to cough up the cash to finish the job.

CN’s director of public affairs, Jim Feeny, said that the governments' contribution is an acknowledgement that it’s their responsibility to maintain the bridge — not CN's.

World's longest cantilever road bridge

The Pont de Québec is a road, rail and pedestrian bridge spanning the St. Lawrence and connecting Quebec City to Lévis.

The riveted steel truss structure was built in 1919 and is still the longest cantilever road bridge. It’s also a National Historic Site.

The MP for Bellechasse- Lévis, Steven Blaney, who is also a civil engineer, said the governments’ $100-million contribution is quite significant.

Ottawa promised $75 million, and the province and cities of Quebec City and Lévis would pitch in the remaining $25 million.

"The Pont de Québec is important for all of us. Let’s move forward, let’s work with CN and get this done," Blaney said.