New bridge gets its official name: Samuel de Champlain
Federal officials confirmed Wednesday that the new bridge over the St. Lawrence River will have the official name of the Samuel de Champlain Bridge.
It will replace the current Champlain Bridge.
The federal government first proposed the name earlier this year, following suggestions from multiple groups including the city of Longueuil.
Public consultations about the name were held in the fall.
The new bridge was initially scheduled to open on Dec. 1 of this year, but that date was later pushed back to Dec. 21.
Unfortunately the new bridge will not be opening to traffic for months to come, because cold weather this fall prevented the necessary final step of waterproofing the roadbed and paving the lanes from taking place.
Right now there is a 60-centimetre gap between the two halves of the bridge and over the next few weeks, those halves will be aligned and the final suspension cables attached.
The Samuel de Champlain Bridge is now expected to open by June 30, 2019. Before then crews will require many days of warm, dry weather to take the necessary steps to complete the bridge, which includes waterproofing and asphalting.
“It's just common sense that if you want to have a bridge for the next 125 years we're not going to compromise the last few months,” said Federal Infrastructure Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne.
Given the delays the federal government is negotiating with Signature on the St. Lawrence, the consortium building the bridge, about how much the company will pay in penalties.
The original contract stated that SSL would be fined $100,000 per day for the first week, increasing to $400,000 per day after that, with a cap of $150 million in total fines.
Champagne said negotiations as to when the fines will start are still underway.
"We are here to be fair and equitable; we are the Canadian government. On the other hand there are terms and conditions and we are going to be applying those terms and conditions. What I'm saying is that as people would understand watching us, that when you come to the end there are claims and counterclaims. We're sorting out these issues, we have mechanisms to resolve them," said Champagne.
The SSL says it had to cope with many delays that were not covered in the initial contract, the most significant of which was the inability to use the existing Champlain Bridge to transport heavy material. Instead heavy items had to be shipped by barge from the South Shore, because the other option, driving cargo via the Lafontaine Tunnel and along the Ville Marie Expressway, was not feasible.
This year the SSL also faced delays after a crane was struck by lightning, and crane operators went on strike.
The total cost of the bridge was initially $3.9 billion but has since increased to $4.2 billion.
Millions have also been spent to maintain the old Champlain Bridge, which will eventually be dismantled.