Rendering of the new Champlain Bridge set to open in 2018. [Courtesy of NewChamplain.ca]
MONTREAL, QC — Heavy trucks carrying more than 66 tonnes have been banned from travelling Montreal’s Champlain Bridge as the aging infrastructure’s durability continues to be threatened by growing traffic volumes.
Trucks were banned from the bridge — or will now require a special permit — as of Oct. 10, announced a statement from management at Ponts Jacque Cartier+Champlain Bridges. The 54-year-old bridge — one of Canada’s busiest and most studied — spans the Saint Lawrence River to connect Montreal to boroughs on the South Shore.
Media reports have suggested Montreal’s uptick in construction led to the ban because of increased truck traffic carrying large loads.
“There are certainly more prefabricated pieces coming across the bridge, but this is more of a preventative measure as the bridge nears the end of its life,” bridge corporation spokeswoman Julie Paquet toldToday’s Trucking.
Paquet added that each large load that crosses the Champlain Bridge is about 40% more penal on the bridge’s system than typical traffic.
“A display and communication plan will be rolled out in the coming days to inform carriers of this new measure and facilitate the planning of their trips,” bridge management announced in a statement translated from French to English by Today’s Trucking.
There are few alternative route options for heavy trucks. With no access to the Southbound Merier Bridge, drivers are likely to select the La Fontaine Tunnel several kilometers away as a longer but guaranteed way to travel.
A new Champlain Bridge worth about $4.2 billion is expected to open in 2018. As it stands, Quebec is spending some $100 million per year to maintain the current bridge.
Bridge management stated that the 5.3 million truck trips across the bridge each year “repeatedly asks the bridge structure to work beyond the loads for which it was designed,” according to Glen P. Carlin, CEO of Ponts Jacque Cartier+Champlain Bridges.
For Class 5 or higher, it is now mandatory to obtain an excess load special permit issued by the Insurance Company automobile du Québec (SAAQ).