June 27, 2018 3:11 pm
Updated: June 27, 2018 6:52 pm

Building the new Champlain Bridge: A race against time

WATCH: After a week-long crane operator strike, some are questioning if the Champlain Bridge will be completed by this winter. As Global's Tim Sargeant reports, missing the December deadline would mean stiff fines and millions of dollars to keep the old bridge open longer than planned.

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Time is not on the side of workers and officials rushing to finish the new Champlain Bridge on time.

READ MORE: Groups behind Montreal’s new Champlain Bridge say project will be done on time

While the deadline of Dec. 21 is still about six months away, the recent strike by crane operators could put the delivery date in jeopardy.

READ MORE: New Champlain Bridge celebrates one year of construction

Officials heading the consortium, led by SNC-Lavalin, insist they’re still striving to meet the deadline, but admit they do need to reassess.

Crane operators walked off the job June 14, not returning until a tribunal ordered them back to work from their “illegal” one week strike.

READ MORE: New Champlain Bridge now expected to open December 21

WATCH BELOW: When will the new Champlain Bridge open?

Dozens of crane operators are helping to build the $4.2 billion span that stretches 3.4 km across the Saint Laurence River.

READ MORE: Montreal’s new Champlain Bridge on schedule

It is a critical link for daily users to-and-from the South Shore, as well as tourists and commercial trade.

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About 160,000 vehicles a day use the bridge and more than $20 billion worth of commercial trade crosses every year, most of it between Canada and the U.S.

READ MORE: 2,000 defects found on Montreal’s new Champlain Bridge

Officials for the existing Champlain Bridge, which opened in 1962, say they have set aside $10 million for maintenance and repair costs in order to keep it open until next June — in the event the new structure isn’t finished.

READ MORE: Workers on overdrive to finish Montreal’s new Champlain Bridge

The consortium will face a fine of $100,000/day for the first seven days the bridge is late, and $400,000/day after the first week.

WATCH BELOW: Champlain Bridge slated to open in 2018

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