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When will work on Ile-aux-Tourtes Bridge end? It's 'complicated,' says Transport Ministry

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The discovery of major cracks on the Île-aux-Tourtes Bridge is causing trouble for off-island commuters, with traffic down from three to two lanes in each direction.

According to Transport Quebec, it's difficult to say when conditions on the bridge will return to normal.

"It's really complicated for us to give a precise date of when we will finalize the work," spokesperson Sarah Bensadoun told CTV News.

Bensadoun said it's possible repair work will still be required after the project's contract ends in 2025.

"Since this is an infrastructure that is pretty old, we have to maintain it and we have to continue doing work."

The nearly 60-year-old bridge, part of Highway 40, connects the Island of Montreal to the Vaudreuil-Dorion suburb.

Drivers say what used to be a quick commute is now a slow and frustrating drive.

Jeanna drives a school bus for children with disabilities. She asked that her last name be omitted for job-related reasons.

"The traffic has become just an absolute nightmare. We're stuck for like 45 minutes," she said.

She said the adjustment has been difficult for her passengers.

"It's hard enough for any children, but these children, obviously, they have disabilities, and they can't fully comprehend traffic," she said. "They get frustrated and upset because they want to go."

Lane changes were first implemented in June of 2022. Until recently, a third lane was alternatingly opened in one direction and then the other, depending on the time of day.

Jeanna hopes the bridge can return to this system, rather than keeping two lanes open in both directions at all times.

In an effort to ease congestion, last weekend, the Transport Ministry established a reserved lane for buses leading up to and heading from the bridge.

But the reserved lanes don't apply to the bridge itself, meaning buses must merge into regular traffic in order to cross.

And Jeanna says many drivers aren't following the new rule.

"Nobody's respecting it," she said. "And if you honk your horn at them, they look at you and they laugh at you. I've even been given the finger."

She wants the province to better enforce the reserved lane with signage and ticketing.

NEW BRIDGE IN THE WORKS

Transport Quebec spokesperson Bensadoun noted that the government plans to start work on a new bridge this year.

She said the project will take at least five-and-a-half years to complete.

In May of 2021, the Île-aux-Tourtes Bridge was placed under temporary emergency closure after its reinforcement bars were damaged by drilling work.  

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