Province and towns seethe as feds plow ahead with Champlain bridge plans

More disagreements between the federal government and the province and towns over the always problematic Champlain Bridge.

But the issues go beyond the proposed tolls. Quebec City and Montreal-area municipalities say they are being sidelined by Ottawa.

At a news conference this morning, Montreal mayor Denis Coderre said he is not going to sit idly by as the federal government builds the bridge it wants over the St-Lawrence.

He was joined by provincial Transport Minister Sylvain Gaudreault, intergovernmental minister Alexandre Cloutuier and Longueuil mayor Caroline St-Hilaire.

They all agreed that Ottawa is treating them as a junior partner. 

"We're not just a bunch of potted plants who are watching Canada and Quebec fight each other," he said. "If [Gaudreault] wants to be inclusive, we want the government of Canada to be inclusive too."

But the biggest issue remains that of tolls. Coderre has long said that tolls on the new bridge will penalize people using the busiest bridge in the country, will lead to tolls on other bridges and ultimately create a donut effect, whereby traffic and businesses simply bypass Montreal.

Federal Transport Minister Denis Lebel said tolls have always been envisioned in the project. But he said the bridge's users won't be the only ones paying for it.

"The tolls will not pay for the bridge [entirely]," he said. "There will be some federal money in the project. We don't know for the moment what the exact amount will be, we will know it when we sign the agreement with the partners in the project."

Ottawa expects to sign a private-public partnership agreement with a company by the summer, with construction expected to last between 2015 and 2018. 

The cost will be between $3- and $5-billion.

Photo courtesy Wikicommons

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  1. joeN posted on 03/03/2014 02:35 PM
    Hey Denis, I would suggest you pipe down. If anything, you should be grateful that the feds are rolling out a new bridge. You should focus on getting all the bridges to the island of montreal set up with tolls and the money can be shared with the municipalities with the on ramps as long as Mtl get at the very least 50%. This way, those who come on the island pay to get in. Why should the off islanders get a free ride??? They certailny don't pay enough for the infrastucture they use to escape the high taxes of Montreal.
  2. wluis posted on 03/03/2014 04:11 PM
    Everyone has this fixation with bridges.
    Why not put tolls on every overpass in the province?

    The last time I looked ......Everything is falling apart.;)
  3. Sam posted on 03/03/2014 11:24 PM
    I'm puzzled as to why anyone thinks that the Canadian government should pay for a bridge in Quebec if Quebec is moving quickly to separate. The only way that it would make sense is if Montreal is independent from a separating Quebec. Why would Canadian tax payers pay the multibillion dollar bill unless Montreal was in Canada?
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