New Champlain Bridge will be completely open for Canada Day
After numerous delays, the new structure will open in 2 stages in coming weeks
The new Samuel De Champlain Bridge finally has a definite opening date.
Traffic will start flowing in the Montreal direction on Monday, June 24 — Quebec's national holiday — and lanes going toward the South Shore will open a week later, on Canada Day.
An opening ceremony is scheduled for June 28.
In a statement, federal Infrastructure Minister François-Philippe Champagne congratulated those who worked "tirelessly and with dedication to build the Samuel De Champlain Bridge, which is sure to be a source of pride. They are the heroes of this project."
He said the government has been focused on the health and safety of workers throughout the project, as well as the quality of the work, given that the new bridge is expected to last 125 years.
The new bridge is 3.4 kilometres long with three lanes in each direction and a central corridor dedicated to public transit.
It will eventually be home to the new light-rail network train, the REM, and there will be a multi-use path for cyclists and pedestrians. That path won't be open until the end of summer.
Crews will be finishing the bridge's lighting and landscaping throughout the summer.
Months of delays
This announcement comes after months of delays and an uncertain opening day.
This new bridge replaces the old Champlain Bridge — the busiest bridge in Canada, with 50 million crossings a year. The old bridge will eventually be dismantled.
The new bridge had initially been slated to be finished by the end of December 2018. That date was pushed back to June 3, which came and went.
Just last week, the infrastructure minister had been unable to say when the bridge would open, although he said the plan was always to do it in stages.
Champagne also reiterated that Signature on the Saint Lawrence (SSL), the consortium behind the project, is facing heavy penalties for missing the initial deadline.
The consortium, led by engineering and construction firm SNC-Lavalin, won the $4.2-billion contract knowing late fees would amount to $100,000 per day for the first seven days and $400,000 per day after that, with a maximum penalty of $150 million.
SSL went over the cost estimated by $235 million, meaning the actual price tag will come in at around $4.5 billion, said a spokesperson for Infrastructure Canada.
The federal government is still in discussions with SSL about who is to blame for the delays and cost overruns before announcing how much, if anything, the government will charge SSL for delivering the bridge late, the spokesperson said.
With files from Simon Nakonechny