Federal government to fast-track replacement of key Montreal bridge

MONTREAL – The Harper government says it will build a replacement for Montreal’s Champlain Bridge by 2018, three years earlier than originally planned.

Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel made the pledge as emergency repairs wrapped up on the current bridge — a key artery linking Montreal to its south shore suburbs.

The bridge had to be temporarily closed this weekend to install a steel support beam after a crack was discovered in one of its girders.

Lebel says the procurement process for a new bridge will begin as early as next spring.

He says he’s aware the problems with the Champlain Bridge have been a major source of frustration for commuters.

Every year, more than 50 million vehicles use the bridge, which was built in 1962.