(Quebec) The cost of infrastructure work is rising everywhere, but here we have reached an exceptional threshold: the bill to rebuild the Île-aux-Tourtes bridge in the west of the metropolis will amount to nearly 1 billion more than expected, a 65% surge. The seeds will be activated this summer.

On Monday, the Legault government will officially announce the conclusion of the contract to replace this Highway 40 bridge which crosses Lac des Deux Montagnes, between Senneville and Vaudreuil-Dorion. He will congratulate himself on having managed to cut 18 months from the planning process for the project, as he promised last year.

The announcement will be made by the minister responsible for the Montérégie region, Suzanne Roy, and the deputy for Soulanges, the caquiste Marilyne Picard. They will specify that the work will begin this summer.

The total bill to replace the two-kilometer bridge rises to 2.3 billion, according to a reliable source who was not authorized to speak publicly about the file.

Just over a year ago, the government predicted the cost would be 1.4 billion. The Treasury Board had authorized this “maximum” expenditure.

However, the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, had to resume the authorization process after obtaining the results of the call for tenders. The price was around two billion, as La Presse revealed in February.

Quebec will confirm on Monday that Groupe Nouveau pont Île-aux-Tourtes has won the contract. This consortium is made up of Roxboro Excavation, Construction Demathieu

The contract is worth close to two billion dollars. Other costs are assumed by the State, such as professional fees, expropriations and certain other works. This brings the total estimate of the project to 2.3 billion, according to the explanations provided to La Presse.

The project consists of building a new bridge north of the current infrastructure, which will then be dismantled. In each direction, there will be three lanes of traffic for cars and trucks, as well as a four-metre shoulder that can be used by buses. A “multi-purpose track” of the same width will be provided for bicycles and pedestrians. The new bridge will be ten meters wider than the current bridge.

The future bridge must “carry a distinctive identity”, reads the “statement of the architectural vision” of the project. It will be a “sustainable infrastructure with a distinct architecture that will focus on harmonious integration into the landscape, with a view to respecting the quality of the surrounding natural environment. The architectural treatment and the facilities will help to improve the journey experience of bridge users and the perception of the infrastructure, “adds this statement adopted in 2020.

Since February 27, preparatory work has been underway for the construction of the new bridge. Crews are to do “targeted” clearing, geotechnical drilling, and work related to moving utility equipment.

Options other than reconstruction had been studied, but ruled out. Upgrading the current structure would be almost as costly and extend its life by just 15 years, according to the Department of Transport. He even concluded that the operation would present a high level of risk. A reconstruction then became inevitable.

In service since 1965, the two-kilometre bridge between Senneville and Vaudreuil-Dorion is in poor condition. It is “at the end of its life”, according to the diagnosis of the Ministry of Transport. He recommended as early as 2018 that a “major intervention project be undertaken as soon as possible” due to the multiplication of “deficiencies” he had observed on the bridge for several years.

The maintenance of this bridge costs a small fortune and will have to continue until the commissioning of the new bridge which will be done gradually, between 2026 and 2029. Quebec has spent nearly $180 million since 2016 to repair beams and slabs, among others. Around 200 million more are planned for construction over the next few years.

At the end of December, Quebec decreed the closure of one lane in each direction due to “the progression of certain existing cracks on the side of the bridge in the direction of Vaudreuil-Dorion”. There was an emergency closure of the bridge in May 2021 for safety reasons.

The measures put in place by the Ministry of Transport are causing discontent in the municipalities of the region, where traffic congestion is significant during rush hours, as we explained in February. Due to the work on the bridge, Autoroute 20, which turns into a boulevard in the Vaudreuil-Dorion sector, is now very busy. We are asking for a bypass.