Major work ahead for South Shore bridges

Photo by Patrick Lejtenyi

If you thought 2013 was a bad year for getting to and from the South Shore, wait till this year.

And next year.

The Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated, the authority running the federally-owned bridges linking Montreal to the South Shore, says 2014 is going to be the busiest - and most expensive - year in terms of maintenance and construction work it's seen. But 2015 is going to be busy as well.

The Bonaventure expressway, parts of Highway 15 and a new bridge from Nuns' Island to the island of Montreal are also adding costs, and headaches.

The good news for Chaplain and Jacques Cartier users: lane closures will be mostly on weekends.

The Mercier, however, will see lane closures for seven straight weeks, from June 21 to August 10, as the bridge's concrete decks are replaced.

Federal bridge authority CEO Glen Carlin says work will also be done on the section of the bridges owned by the provincial transport ministry, but the two are in constant communication

"We are trying to work together so we don't cause a situation in which the two bridge owners are not speaking to each other," he said.

The budget for this year's work is $364-million - that's more than double last year's total - and almost $150-million is going to the Champlain Bridge.

The authority's senior director of engineering Steve Tselios says the money will be well spent, even though the bridge is scheduled to be demolished and replaced within the decade.

"If we do get into a problem and we have to shut the bridge like we did last year, the impact on the economy and the public is huge," he said. "At this point, with what we're dealing with, we really have no choice but to invest, to keep it safe and to keep the circulation going."

For the complete list and schedule of closures and maintenance work, visit http://jccbi.ca/. 

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