Drivers, take note. The Quebec government says it could take at least a year to reopen more lanes on a major Montreal bridge.
The Transport Ministry says the bridge will be shut down as of 11:59 p.m. on Friday and reopen at 5 a.m. on Monday. Since traffic is expected to be heavy, the toll on nearby Highway 30 will be lifted for the entire weekend.
The beleaguered span will then be down to a total of three lanes as of next week. Two lanes will be open during peak hours in the direction with the most traffic and one in the opposite direction.
As a result, travel times could be much longer on the bridge that links Montreal’s West Island to Vaudreuil-Dorion, and it could take up to a year to reopen more lanes, according to the ministry. It is “evaluating all options that would speed up the work.”
Sarah Bensadoun, spokesperson for the ministry, says she realizes the scenario is “far from ideal” but that “our priority is the safety of road users and the safety of infrastructure.”
The ministry says commuters who routinely use the structure should consider other options, such as taking public transit or working from home if possible. Trucks will still be able to use the bridge but must respect the posted weight limits.
Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon says he will monitor the situation but he knows it will be a headache for drivers. He is asking the public to be patient and says the city is doing its best to ease the impact.
“It’s going to be worse before it’s going to be better,” he said.
The Île-aux-Tourtes bridge was first put into service in 1965, but is nearing the end of its service. Motorists have faced detours, reduced lanes and emergency closures in recent years.
The bridge is a critical trade route between Ontario and Quebec, and data suggests about 80,000 vehicles cross it on a daily basis.
Preparatory work has begun on a brand new span that will replace the old one, but it won’t open before the end of 2026.
— with files from Global’s Gloria Henriquez, Elizabeth Zogalis and The Canadian Press