Montreal demands tolls, public transit for new Champlain Bridge

The City of Montreal has unveiled its wish list for the new Champlain Bridge at a news conference on Sunday. It outlined several projects it hopes to incorporate, including a toll station and a light rail system.

The project, which is estimated to cost between $3 billion and $5 billion will be financed by the federal government.

So far, Transport Canada has expressed the desire to implement a toll system on the new bridge to pay for infrastructure costs.

The city said it did not oppose the idea but demands that the federal government make its part in financing the bridge's infrastructure.

Réal Ménard, the member of executive committee responsible for transport, said the revenues from tolling should also help finance other transport projects in the city.

"We would feel uncomfortable if the federal government used all of the funds collected to solely finance the Champlain Bridge," he said.

He added that a part of the funds should be put towards public transport.

Among its wishes for the bridge, the city said it hopes to install a 13-kilometre-long light rail system (LRS) from Quartier DIX30 in Brossard to downtown Montreal.

On its website, the Longueuil transport network said the bridge's temporary reserved bus lane – which has been in place since 1978 – sees 20,600 trips during peak hours each year.

In comparison, the metro's yellow line, which links downtown Montreal to Longueuil, makes 21,100 trips on peak hours annually.

The federal government will be orchestrating the project and using a public-private model to put it together.

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois confirmed the provincial and federal governments would be partnering on the project.

She told Prime Minister Stephen Harper that she thought it would be out-of-line if his government were to act alone on this project.

Ménard said the bridge's design work would be awarded through an international architectural contest.

Last July, the government announced that the Champlain Bridge replacement span was expected to be ready in 10 years, with a temporary structure going up by 2015.

In 2011, a report on the bridge's condition estimated that $25 million would be needed to repair the structure and prolong its life.

The report made public by the federal government concluded the bridge would have to be replaced eventually, despite repairs.

The bridge was officially opened in 1962 and the tolls were abolished in 1990. It is now considered the busiest bridge in the country.

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