Montreal bridge gets $158M in repair funds
Ottawa reassures drivers that bridge is safe despite concerns of collapse
The federal government on Friday announced new funding to fix Montreal's Champlain Bridge as concerns mount it is at risk of collapse.
Conservative Senator Larry Smith said $158 million will be spent on a major repair and maintenance program for the Champlain Bridge, a six-kilometre-long span crossing the Saint Lawrence River between Montreal and its south shore suburbs.
The new funding is on top of $212 million in federal funds announced in 2009.
On Friday, Montreal's La Presse newspaper cited two leaked engineering reports prepared for a federal bridge agency that suggest sections of the structure are in a severe state of deterioration that will progress exponentially.
The report concludes that a partial or complete collapse of the span should not be ruled out.
Smith said the new money will reinforce the bridge and ensure it is safe for the 60 million vehicles that travel on it every year.
"The No. 1 priority is to ensure that our existing structure is stable," Smith told reporters at a news conference in Brossard at the south end of the bridge.
He said Ottawa is waiting for a final report from the Quebec Transport Ministry on the future of the bridge and if it should be replaced.
"Until then, the additional repair work will ensure the bridge can continue to safely carry the volume of traffic forecast," said Smith.
Opened to traffic in 1962, Champlain is Canada's busiest bridge.
Ottawa also announced $70 million for repair and maintenance of the Jacques Cartier Bridge on Friday.