MONTREAL -- The replacement for the troubled Champlain Bridge will be delivered by 2018, three years ahead of schedule, federal Transport Minister Denis Lebel announced Sunday afternoon.

“We will work with our partners to deliver a new bridge three years ahead of schedule,” said Lebel, adding that the international bridge design competition will be scrapped in order to save construction time.

"We will not cut corners," said Lebel in a press conference, adding that the new bridge will last 100 years, twice that of the current Champlain Bridge. Lebel also added that the project would stay under $5 billion.

The new bridge will be a toll bridge, with a light rail infrastructure chosen by the Quebec government, he said.

Ottawa has decided to move forward on the construction plans with Canadian engineering firm ARUP Inc. and internationally renowned architect Poul Ove Jensen, who designed the Oresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark, a bridge similar in size to the Champlain Bridge.

The contract to build the bridge is set to be procured in spring 2014.

The urgency for a replacement span from Montreal to the South Shore became more apparent after a crack was detected on a concrete edge beam in early November.

Every effort will be made to the Champlain Bridge remains open until the new bridge is built, said Lebel.

Officials also said that the five lanes on the current bridge will be reopened Sunday evening before midnight; three will run toward Montreal for morning rush hour and two toward the South Shore.

Emergency repairs closed the bridge for part of this weekend, when a 75-tonne supergirder was attached to six steel cables through the damaged concrete beam that's cracked underneath. Officials say the cables are strong enough to support the weight of that beam and the traffic that moves over the bridge.

Jean-Vincent Lacroix of the Jacques-Cartier and Champlain Bridge Corportation said the operation was a success.

“One hundred per cent of the support is done by this new beam. It's not just to add support on the bridge – it’s to replace it,” he said.

Additional work is taking place to divert traffic around the newly installed beam.

“After that it's going to be three lanes per direction, but of course the lanes towards the South Shore will be narrow,” said Lacroix.

Additional support will be installed underneath the bridge in the spring.

Every year, more than 50 million vehicles cross the Champlain Bridge, which was built in 1962.

With files from La Presse Canadienne and The Canadian Press