Transports Québec has confirmed that construction has started for the new Île-aux-Tourtes bridge.
The news comes after more cracks were found on the current span late Friday evening, which forced authorities to close four of the six lanes. One lane is open in each direction.
“We were conducting regular interventions,” explained ministry spokesperson Sarah Bensadoun. “We were removing dilapidated concrete on the surface of the bridge, and we noticed more extensive damage on the bridge slab.”
Traffic was reduced to three lanes just a week earlier after a crack was discovered. Transport Quebec didn’t provide more information about the building of the new bridge, but says the recently-discovered damages on the old one aren’t a surprise.
“Île-aux-Tourtes bridge is an old structure,” Bensadoun pointed out. “It is at the end of its lifespan.”
To help mitigate traffic problems caused by the new lane closures, off-island residents can now use the Exo commuter trains or buses for free. That’s in addition to other measures already in place.
“On Highway 30, there will be no toll for the next few weeks,” she said, cautioning that though they are also working on other mitigation measures, those who drive should plan carefully since this new one-lane configuration will be in place for weeks. She says they are prepared to work through the holidays if necessary.
This new hiccup on a 50-plus-year-old span has off-island residents west of the bridge fed up.
“On the Île-aux-Tourtes I think it’s around 80,000 cars and trucks every day,” Vaudreuil-Dorion mayor Guy Pilon noted. “So it’s major, major.”
Pilon fears the situation may get worse before it improves, resulting in drivers using other bridges and highways, clogging them up.
“Making other people mad or sad or whatever, and maybe they will decide to not go to Montreal anymore,” he added, suggesting that the problems on the Île-aux-Tourtes also create problems for the City of Montreal.
Preparatory work, such as clearing forest and geotechnical drilling operations at the site of the future bridge, began in February 2023.