Two lanes have been opened in both directions on the Île-aux-Tourtes bridge after emergency work caused a partial lane reduction.
On Wednesday, the Quebec transport ministry said it was forced to close two of three lanes in the westbound direction after a “concerning structural issue,” was discovered underneath the bridge.
According to MTQ spokesperson Gilles Payer, the department discovered a second reinforcing rod was cut from another beam.
“The department closed the second lane of traffic for safety,” Payer said.
The lane closures have caused major traffic headaches in both the morning and afternoon rush hours.
Payer said the reopening of a second westbound lane will help alleviate the congestion while crews race to repair the issue.
“The contractor and the developer are working together to find solutions as quickly as possible,” Payer said.
“Security and safety are first. Teams are working on a bridge repair solution to restore three lanes of traffic in each direction.”
The revolving construction and traffic have been a bee in the bonnet of local mayors for decades.
“I am pissed off,” said Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon.
Pilon said the 56-year-old bridge has been a major issue for years and only band-aid solutions have been implemented.
Pilon is concerned with the time it is taking to approve replacing the bridge.
“We’re always planning and planning. We need a new bridge. It’s simple,” Pilon said.
The MTQ is asking drivers to avoid the area if they can.
They suggest using Highway 20 as a detour.
Ste-Anne de Bellevue mayor Poala Hawa said the diverted traffic ends up in the small streets of the village as drivers try to find shortcuts.
Hawa took to Facebook to condemn the action, saying that it doesn’t work and it “paralyzes our small city.”
Pilon agrees, saying the added traffic filing through Vaudreuil-Dorion by Highway 20 is also a problem as drivers must pass through small streets riddled with traffic lights.
“It’s jammed at rush hour,” Pilon said.
The MTQ has been working on placing supporting beams underneath the bridge structure since 2016.
The bracing work is expected to continue until 2025.
A complete reconstruction of the bridge is included in the Quebec infrastructure plan within the next 10 years but those plans haven’t yet been finalized.
In the meantime, emergency work to keep the structure safe will continue, Payer said.
No time frame was given for when the three lanes of traffic will be restored to normal.