Future Champlain Bridge: toll, traffic could increase by 23%

gouvernement-liberal-justin-trudeau-intentionThe abandonment of the toll on the new Champlain Bridge could increase by about 23% the number of vehicles that borrow daily to cross the St. Lawrence River between Montreal and the South Shore, according to a departmental document Infrastructure Canada

The increase in traffic on the new bridge is so important to the original scenario, which provided a toll, it could lead to “changes in the design of certain works, widening of roads and suspenders of inputs and outputs, and a possible increase in maintenance and repair costs “of new infrastructure provided in the development agreement signed in June between the Government of Canada and the private consortium Signature on the St. Lawrence (SSL).

“Even if the contract provides for an additional payment mechanism SSL event of an increase in heavy traffic [trucks] on deck – since an increase in the number of trucks would induce an exponential deterioration of roads – there is no clause to compensate SSL because of additional movement of cars and motorcycles, “said the document marked” Confidential “. “Additional studies will be needed to adequately quantify these increases in traffic volumes and the costs associated with it.”

The Liberal Justin Trudeau government intends to keep his promise not to impose tolls on the new Champlain Bridge, whose construction is expected by the end of 2018. The reopening of the contract signed last June with the consortium SSL, which SNC-Lavalin is the lead partner, however, have important consequences for government finances which relied on toll revenues estimated between 3.2 and 3.7 billion, over 30 years, and which will now finance the construction and maintenance of the new bridge from its own revenues.

According to information obtained, the government gives between 12 and 16 months to sign a new agreement with SSL and tie up a financing plan for the new Champlain Bridge, whose total cost is estimated at 4.2 billion.

In a statement sent to La Presse yesterday late evening, Infrastructure Canada asserts that “the cost of the bridge will not increase due to the government’s commitment not to impose a toll. We will meet the Signature group on the St. Lawrence (SSL), our private partner responsible for building the bridge to discuss the details of the implementation of the toll-free bridge “.

“Savings” of 301 million

The abandonment of the toll will lead, paradoxically, “savings” of $ 301 million over the original cost of the contract. Indeed, the costs associated with the toll infrastructure provided on the new Champlain Bridge are an integral part of the partnership agreement signed in June.

This agreement included the cost of 42 million for the acquisition and implementation of the tolling infrastructure, 169 million for the operation and routine maintenance of the system over a period of 30 years, and 89 million for its update and repair, for the duration of the contract (Note: Amounts have been rounded).

The changes to the project scope would therefore not have immediate financial implications for the federal government, according to the document obtained. By cons, says one, “if negotiations [SSL] are not successful or it resulted in higher costs with anticipated savings of 301 million, additional applications may be required. Infrastructure Canada will work with the Treasury Board and the Department of Finance Canada to adjust funding accordingly. ”

Increase in traffic

The federal government thus expects that the challenge of increased traffic on a toll bridge be raised during negotiations with SSL consortium. “The business case for the project estimated that the traffic volumes would be approximately 23% higher in a toll-free scenario,” and mentions the outcome document of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Communities, responsible for the new Champlain Bridge.

The current Champlain Bridge is used by about 59 million vehicles per year (over 160 000 vehicles a day), according to the company’s traffic data The Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges built, which manages the federal transport infrastructure Greater Montreal.

During the procurement process that led to the signing of the contract in June 2015, several papers Infrastructure Canada were reported traffic estimates ranging from “40 to 50 million vehicles per year,” is a lot of traffic flow lower than those of the existing bridge.

These data took account of likely diversion of part of the current users to other bridges in the South Shore because of the toll was expected only on the new Champlain Bridge.

This toll road would have reported to the Government of Canada over a period of 30 years, more than 100 million per year, according to data obtained by La Presse. This raw data for estimating between $ 1.80 and $ 2.25 the price that Ottawa would require users of the new Champlain Bridge.

These amounts should be viewed with caution, however, since they assume a uniform tariff for cars and trucks, and without modulation peak periods. The proposed fee schedule under the former Conservative government has never been made public.

A less popular SLR?
The absence of toll on the new Champlain Bridge could reduce the attractiveness of light train between Montreal and the South Shore projected by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CPDQ), according to Infrastructure Canada.

A document obtained by , which raises several issues related to the abandonment of the toll, suggesting that free could have impacts on the project announced with great fanfare in early 2015 by the government and the Caisse Couillard. “The CDPQ is developing a business case for the potential implementation of a light rail on the new Champlain Bridge, the document said. It is conceivable that a toll bridge results in lower traffic for public transport and it can affect the level of public funding required to ensure the financial viability of the light rail system. ”

Reached by La Presse, a spokesman for the CDPQ, Maxime Chagnon, said yesterday that studies of light rail the new Champlain Bridge are still ongoing and it would be “premature” to predict the consequences of abandoning the toll on the profitability of this project.

Until the new bridge
Approximate amount invested in 2015 by the federal corporation The Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated (JCCBI) to secure the existing Champlain Bridge, at the end of useful life.
Number of steel mesh installed to date under the edge beams of the Champlain Bridge
Cost of manufacturing and installing each trellis 550 000 000 Total sum that has been expended to ensure the safety of the existing Champlain Bridge from 2009 to its final closure, scheduled for late 2018.
Number of mesh that provides JCCB install under 43 beams, 2016
Number trellises planned during 2017
Poeti welcomes Ottawa’s decision
The Minister of Transport, Robert Poëti, welcomed yesterday the abandonment by the Trudeau government toll on the future Champlain Bridge.

“It was clear, for me, with this new government, he said. This is a confirmation of what we already knew. “The new federal Minister of Infrastructure, Amarjeet Sohi, told the Journal de Montreal that there would be no toll on the new bridge. And even though Ottawa must pay compensation to the consortium led by SNC-Lavalin.

The toll tax on infrastructure has been criticized by the Liberal government and its predecessor PQ, and by all cities of Greater Montreal.

The Stopru