Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Montreal's New Samuel De Champlain Bridge Officially Inaugurated

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Montreal's New Samuel De Champlain Bridge Officially Inaugurated

Article excerpt

Montreal's new Champlain Bridge inaugurated

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MONTREAL - It was out with the old Champlain Bridge and in with the new Samuel De Champlain Bridge on Friday as one Montreal-area span was officially inaugurated while the other bid adieu after 57 years of service.

The new bridge -- one of Canada's largest infrastructure projects -- opened to northbound traffic toward Montreal on Monday, and will welcome southbound traffic as of Canada Day.

The elegant, modern structure is a striking contrast to its crumbling counterpart, long one of Canada's busiest spans. Federal Infrastructure Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne didn't miss an opportunity to make a reference to the predecessor.

The original opened on June 28, 1962, and was to close permanently later Friday.

"If the past has taught us anything, it is certainly the need to build sustainable, modern and quality infrastructure for all future generations," Champagne said.

The new bridge was originally to open last December, but delays pushed back the opening and added another $235 million to the original $4.2 billion price tag.

The bridge was designed for a light-rail system under construction called the REM. Champagne noted that a dedicated path for pedestrians and cyclists will open later this summer on the 3.4 kilometre span that is to remain open all year -- providing a first winter link for cyclists crossing the St. Lawrence River.

Champagne and Quebec Transport Minister Francois Bonnardel, as well as the mayors of Montreal and Brossard -- communities on either end of the span -- were among the dignitaries on hand for the opening, which included an Aboriginal blessing and the singing of the national anthem by a choir.

The stars were some of the more than 2,000 people who built the new span, devoting more than eight million work hours in often difficult conditions.

They were feted by the politicians for their efforts on the complex and demanding construction project. …

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