As the sun began to rise over the river, a long line of cars slowly began to make their way across Montreal’s new Champlain Bridge. Samuel De Champlain would be pleased to know that the bridge that bears his name is already expected to be become the city’s ‘Signature on the St. Lawrence’ for decades to come and well into the next century.
“It’s an historic moment,” said federal infrastructure minister François-Philippe Champagne. During a brief stop at the middle of the span, Champagne joined federal transport minister Marc Garneau and south-shore MP Alexandra Mendès during a quick ‘scrum’ when he spoke about the bridge, its details, and what it would mean for both the city and the nation’s future for the next few decades.
“This bridge is as long as your average airport’s landing strip with a mast that’s 170 meters high,” said Champagne. “Thousands of workers put in hundreds of thousands of working hours to build this bridge, so this is their day because this is their bridge.”
As it took more than four years and $4.5 Billion to build the new bridge, it was also a big day for everybody else, including Guy Mailhot and Damalaya Condé who shared the honor of being the first to cross the new bridge. As one of the leading engineers who worked on the new bridge from the very beginning of the multi-billion dollar project, Mailhot told the media that it was the first time that he crossed the bridge from end to end in his new electric car.
“It’s a beautiful sight,” he said. “And while crossing the bridge at 10 km per hour, it doesn’t take long before you realize just how big and how long this bridge really is.”
As Condé also worked on the project, he shared the day with his daughter because
“... I am very happy, and very proud to have been able to have been able to work on this project.
Others, including senior SSL bridge executive Gregorio Munoz, told The Suburban that the new bridge would probably define the high point of their careers as well as for the rest of their lives.
“It’s a wonderful day,” said Munoz. “When I first came to this country 10 years ago, I never imagined that I would be a part of this big day. But here we are, and it’s truly a great day for everybody who worked on this bridge.”
While an official opening ceremony is scheduled for Friday, the 28th of June, both sides of the bridge will be open for regular traffic as of the 1st of July – Canada Day. As one of the busier and more important bridges in all of North America, a minimum of over 50 million people and $20 Billion dollars worth of commercial trade are expected to cross its span per year over the next century.
The City of Montreal is not being cooperative regarding a proposal by Côte St. Luc to ban parking on Vézina during the morning rush hour between Clanranald and Décarie Blvd., Councillor Oren Sebag told a recent District 1 meeting.
Sebag was responding to a CSL resident at Le Vicomte who said it takes between 20 and 45 minutes to get from Clanranald on Vézina to Décarie during the morning rush hour.
That area of Vézina heading eastbound is the scene of massive traffic tie-ups from Hampstead and Côte St. Luc, and this is expected by many to exponentially worsen because of nearby developments that are planned or are currently under construction.
Sebag said one factor that was potentially standing in the way of prohibiting parking in the morning heading eastbound is one handicapped parking spot on Vézina, used by an area resident living close to Décarie.
“I knocked on his door and spoke to the gentleman, and he’s an amazing person,” the councillor added. “He told me he needs the parking spot. I asked him if he minded redesigning his sidewalk area [to accommodate traffic and the resident as well].... He was very open to it and very keen on helping us.”
But, “the City of Montreal wasn’t,” Sebag explained. “I did reach out to the City of Montreal. I spoke to them many times and the last time, I wasn’t even responded to [from CDN/NDG Mayor Sue Montgomery’s office]. Some people are open to listening, some people are not.”
Sebag said he will be meeting with Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand about this issue, amongst others.