Human error behind indefinite closure of Île-aux-Tourtes bridge: transport officials

Click to play video: 'Île-aux-Tourtes bridge closed indefinitely for emergency work' Île-aux-Tourtes bridge closed indefinitely for emergency work
WATCH: The Transport Ministry said human error is to blame for the emergency closure of the Île-aux-Tourtes bridge after reinforcement rods in the structure were damaged during ongoing repair work. As Global’s Elizabeth Zogalis reports, there’s no timeline set for when the vital link to and from Montreal might reopen. – May 21, 2021

There is no set timeline for when the Île-aux-Tourtes bridge a vital link connecting Montreal’s West Island to Vaudreuil-Dorion will reopen after it was closed for emergency work, transport officials said Friday.

Quebec Transport Minister François Bonnardel said he understands the frustration from citizens, but that he is doing everything in his power “to open this bridge as quickly as possible.”

“I would like to assure you that every effort was made to keep the bridge safe until it is replaced in 2027,” he said.

The immediate closure was announced Thursday, with authorities saying engineers decided to shut down the 56-year-old span for safety reasons. Emergency repairs are being carried out all day and night, according to Bonnardel.

READ MORE: Transport minister announces emergency closure of Île-aux-Tourtes bridge in West Island

The reason for the shutdown is due to human error, he said. Reinforcement bars that are part of the structure were damaged by drilling as part of recent work to the bridge, which was secure.

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“I don’t want to blame anyone, but we are working with humans,” he told reporters. “We are working with a contractor. We have a good contractor that is doing good work.”

Closing the Île-aux-Tourtes bridge was the “only responsible thing” to do, he added.

“We had to do it for the safety of those who use the bridge,” he said.

When pressed by reporters, Bonnardel said he will be able to provide a clearer timeline for reopening the structure in the next few days.

The span along Highway 40 is heavily used. Data from 2019 suggests about 80,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day.

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It is also one of the main bridges that motorists use to travel from Montreal to Ontario on the Trans-Canada Highway system.

The closure has snarled traffic in the area Friday morning, leading to lengthy commutes to and from western tip of Montreal. The detour means drivers have to use Highway 20 through neighbouring Île-Perrot or Highway 30, where the toll has been waived.

The shutdown has also forced the cancellation of some bus routes overseen by exo, a local transit authority.

As a mitigation measure, service on the Vaudreuil-Hudson train line is also free until further notice.

Local mayors are following the situation closely. In Senneville, on the western tip of the island of Montreal, Mayor Julie Brisebois says the town is co-ordinating with Montreal police.

“We’re working closely with the SPVM ever since we found out what was going on,” she said.

Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon says there will be extra police presence and traffic lights will be synchronized accordingly while the bridge remains closed.

In the meantime, he is hoping residents can adjust their work schedules and consider public transit.

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“Because of COVID, the parking for the train station was almost empty,” he said. “This morning it’s full at 75 per cent so it’s a good sign.”

Click to play video: 'Quebec shuts down major bridge linking Montreal to highway to Ontario' Quebec shuts down major bridge linking Montreal to highway to Ontario
Quebec shuts down major bridge linking Montreal to highway to Ontario – May 20, 2021

— With files from Global News’ Annabelle Olivier, Brayden Jagger Haines, Elizabeth Zogalis and The Canadian Press

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