At the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Champlain Bridge, Federal Transportation Minister Denis Lebel announced the project would cost $4.2 billion, down from the $5 billion it was originally projected to cost.
The new bridge should be ready by December 2018, with construction of a section of Highway 15 leading to the bridge and the Nuns’ Island Bridge to be completed the following year. The project will create about 30,000 jobs, the government says.
A consortium that includes SNC-Lavalin, ACS Infrastructures, Dragados Canada, and Flatiron Construction is not only going to build the bridge, but will also be responsible for keeping the bridge in good condition for 30 years, until 2049.
One concern is that the initial cost of the project will go up as construction begins, but the government says that won't happen. Taxpayers don't need to worry because if there are cost overruns, the consortium, not the government, will pay.
“We have a deal with this amount of money and they will have to respect that,” Lebel said, adding there will be fines to pay in the event that the bridge’s opening is delayed.
Another concern is about the traffic jams construction will cause. The government says it's working closely with the surrounding cities to figure out how to mitigate the impact.
The exact cost of the tolls for the Champlain hasn't been worked out. Despite opposition to that idea, the government is going ahead with tolls so that bridge can pay for itself, it says. Crossing the Champlain II could cost between $2 to $4.
The existing Champlain Bridge undergoes regular repair work, most recently the replacement of concrete on six support pillars.