Dozens of steel rods intended to strengthen the aging structure were damaged during regular maintenance work. One of these bars was severed on April 30 and a track was closed as a result.
“Mistakes can happen,” the minister said. “I don’t want to blame anyone, but we work with humans. “
Another rod was damaged on May 12, resulting in the closure of a second lane. Inspections revealed that approximately 40 rods were in poor condition.
Following a series of meetings held earlier this week, the Department of Transportation decided to close the bridge.
The Île-aux-Tourtes bridge is a vital link for commuters, connecting the West Island of Montreal to Vaudreuil-Dorion via Highway 40. During rush hour, approximately 87,000 vehicles use the bridge daily, including 10,000 trucks. The closure causes a traffic nightmare for drivers.
Bonnardel apologized for the inconvenience “which they have suffered since last night, and which they will continue to experience for a few days”.
He did not provide a more specific timeline.
“I remain an eternal optimist, and I cannot imagine that the bridge will be closed in the long term,” said Bonnardel. ” [But] it is true that at present we cannot give you a precise timetable. ”
For now, traffic is diverted by highways 20 and 30. Pending the reopening of the bridge, the ministry is canceling the toll on highway 30 and trips on the Vaudreuil-Hudson Exo line will be free.
“Closing the bridge was the only responsible decision that could be made,” said the minister. “What I can tell you now is that the work will be done 24/7.”
The minister insists that the bridge is safe and that there is no risk of it collapsing.
The structure, built in 1965, has had to undergo expensive repairs in recent years. In 2018, the government had already injected $ 87 million to maintain the bridge and an additional $ 45 million is expected to be spent by 2028.
The Quebec government plans to replace the bridge by 2027.