MONTREAL – The Viger tunnel on the Ville-Marie Expressway is expected to re-open at full capacity at 5 a.m. Monday.
Transport Quebec closed the tunnel in both directions at 6 p.m. Friday after concerns were raised about the tunnel’s safety due to a crack that was found on a portion of the concrete panel under the construction zone of the new super hospital.
An initial inspection to the site showed no major damage, but a second look on Friday showed serious cracks in the slab.
Transport Quebec officials believe the crack appeared as a result from an error made by city workers who sliced too deeply into the ceiling of the tunnel as they were replacing a sidewalk above on Sanguinet and Viger streets.
“It was an error on the construction site,” said Sarah Bensadoun, with Transport Quebec.
“They sawed too deep in the concrete slab.”
According to a Transport Quebec spokesperson, the crack was located between two support walls, which means there was never any danger of the tunnel collapsing.
“This closure is necessary to ensure the safety of road users until the interventions required to secure the concrete slab above the tunnel are made,” wrote Quebec’s Transport Ministry in a statement.
Workers removed the cracked panel and then inserted a permanent replacement.
“I understand that it’s too bad for the drivers, it’s frustrating, but at the same time that it’s important to focus on prevention and security,” said Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre.
“The inspectors and all the engineers said we have no choice. We have closed it on both sides.”
Transport Minister Robert Poeti, who visited the site Friday evening around 8 p.m., said the closure was more of a precautionary measure and that there had not been a collapse, nor had any debris fallen.
“We are working together with the city of Montreal, the police and the mayor,” said Poeti.
“People can be reassured that we are working on this.”
The tunnel re-opened on the west side Saturday afternoon.
The remaining span, the eastbound lanes leading to Exit 6 at boulevard Saint-Laurent/Berri and Rue Panet, will remain closed until 5 a.m. Monday for roadworks that had already been planned by the city.