Costly bridge snafu along new Montreal beltway

A part of Highway 30 bridge being constructed in Melocheville, Que. The colossal structure, erected...

A part of Highway 30 bridge being constructed in Melocheville, Que. The colossal structure, erected far residential neighborhoods on lands belonging to Hydro Quebec, runs a length of 2.5 km. The bridge of the canal of Beauharnois will have 38 metres of release of the plan of water. (PIERRE LANGEVIN/QMI Agency)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:29 PM ET

MONTREAL — Highway 30, a $1.5-billion beltway around the island of Montreal, opens Saturday after more than 30 years of delays and political wrangling between Quebec and the feds, but engineers are already warning of a design problem.

A major bridge along the route has salt water leaking directly onto support pillars, and an architect tells QMI Agency that it's only a matter of time before the new structure starts to look very, very old.

It's a sensitive issue in a city that has seen two deadly overpass collapses in the past 12 years, including the Sept. 30, 2006, crumbling of a span north of Montreal that killed five people, including a pregnant woman.

Architect Pierre Brisset visited a span along the new beltway in Melocheville, Que., about 30 km west of Montreal.

In many places, during thaw periods, salty water was seen flowing from drainage ducts directly onto support beams.

"This is exactly the same problem that caused premature wear of the Champlain Bridge," said Brisset, referring to the busy span that connects Montreal to south-shore suburbs.

He says the problem with the newer bridge can be fixed, but it will cost more money.

Denis Leonard, director of the consortium that built the beltway, acknowledged the concerns about the bridge and said the problem will be corrected.

The beltway will allow trucks and other vehicles from Ontario to bypass Montreal to reach eastern Canada and the U.S.


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