The indefinite closure of the Île-aux-Tourtes bridge, which connects the western tip of the Island of Montreal to Vaudreuil-Dorion, has forced two local school boards to adapt by suspending certain bus routes and shuttering some schools.
The Centre de services scolaire des Trois-Lacs issued a statement on the long weekend to notify staff, parents and students of its decision to close all elementary and high schools Tuesday.
“We are aware of the inconvenience this situation can cause,” the school board said. “However, the geographic configuration of our territory means that the transportation of employees and students to schools is directly affected.”
Trois-Lacs says the closure will allow each school in the area to “analyze the impacts of this situation on its environment.”
“We will assess the situation and make the necessary adjustments in each area, in order to provide students with the most appropriate teaching conditions given the circumstances,” the board said.
The Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB), meanwhile, has also had to make changes due to the indefinite closure of the bridge.
Macdonald High School, located in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue but which serves a large off-island population, is closed. Students will move to online learning in the meantime.
Bus transportation for off-island students at Beaconsfield High School is suspended. They are being encouraged to take the Vaudreuil-Hudson train line, which is free of charge until further notice.
Meanwhile, buses for students with special needs who live off island are also cancelled.
Busses will be maintained for Dorset and Christmas Park elementary schools, but the LBSPB warns there could be “significant” delays due to traffic.
Cindy Finn, the board’s director general, said in a statement that the administration is closely monitoring the situation.
“We understand that the bridge closure is having a significant impact on our community — students, their parents, and staff. The closure of this major transportation artery will result in increased traffic and delayed travel times,” she said.
“The school board is doing everything possible to reduce these inconveniences. We understand the frustration of all who must adapt to the effects of the bridge closure.”
The bridge was immediately closed Thursday during the afternoon rush-hour — snarling traffic on and off the island of Montreal. Authorities said engineers decided to shut down the 56-year-old span for safety reasons.
The critical span, connecting Montreal’s West Island to Vaudreuil-Dorion along Highway 40, sees more than 80,000 vehicles on a daily basis. It opened in 1965 and is scheduled to be replaced by 2027.
It is also one of the main bridges that motorists use to travel from Montreal to Ontario on the Trans-Canada Highway system.
The shutdown has forced drivers to opt for highways 20 and 30 in lengthy detours. The train line that serves the off-island area is also available free of charge until the bridge reopens.
Quebec Transport Minister François Bonnardel said on Friday that drilling as part of work to the Île-aux-Tourtes bridge damaged the structure.
Bonnardel was not able to say when span is expected to reopen he is doing everything he can for it to happen as soon as possible.
— With files from the Canadian Press