The consortium building the new Champlain Bridge has filed a lawsuit against the federal government for $124 million.

The Signature on the St. Lawrence Consortium, which includes SNC-Lavalin and multiple other companies, says the federal government concealed a hidden defect that is greatly slowing down construction of the new bridge.

It stems from a decision announced last year to ban heavy trucks from the existing Champlain Bridge.

In the lawsuit, the Consortium says federal officials knew of the weight restrictions set by Quebec's Ministry of Transportation in March 2015, when bids were being tendered, but did not inform them until more than one year later.

The Champlain and Jacques Cartier Bridges Corporation realized those vehicles were carrying so much weight that it was damaging the span -- and the other bridges to and from the South Shore were already off limits to extra-heavy vehicles.

Closing the bridge to heavy vehicles means there is no easy way to get massive custom pieces, manufactured specifically for the new Champlain Bridge, to the worksite.

In the lawsuit, the Consortium said it has nearly 1,000 such items that weigh up to 80 tonnes, some of which are more than 35 metres long.

The closest trucking alternative is the Lafontaine Tunnel, easily an hour away during daytime traffic in Montreal, but some of the items are too long to make it through the necessary streets. .

With no way to transport the items by road, the Consortium has had to transport pieces by rail and by barge -- and pay to warehouse items until they can be transported.

The new Champlain bridge is scheduled to be completed by Dec. 1, 2018, but the lawsuit contends that it will not be built on time because of these delays.


Signature on St. Lawrence lawsuit by CTV_Montreal on Scribd