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Legault relaunches a third Quebec-Lévis highway link, just in case

Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press “By taking a step back, we realize that the issue of economic security is very important,” declared François Legault.

Isabelle Porter and Francois Carabin in Quebec

Posted at 2:11 p.m. Updated at 5:23 p.m.

  • Quebec

The Legault government now maintains that a third link is essential for reasons of “economic security” in the event that the Pierre-Laporte bridge has to close, since it is the only one to allow the transport of goods.

“By taking a step back, we see that the issue of economic security is very important,” declared François Legault on Thursday , during a press briefing during which he confirmed that his government would give the green light to the addition of a link to the east between Quebec and Lévis.

Supporting his argument, the Prime Minister also underlined that 10,500 trucks passed through this bridge every day and that, in the event of the closure of the Pierre-Laporte bridge, they would have to go to Trois-Rivières to cross the river.

“It is not impossible” that the Pierre-Laporte bridge will have to close, declared the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, citing the example of the Île-aux-Tourtes bridge and the delays in the construction of the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine bridge-tunnel. “If that ever happened, it would be hellish and catastrophic for the economy of our two regions. »

« If you asked the people of Vaudreuil and Soulanges: “Would you have liked previous governments to plan in advance the construction of a new infrastructure before your [Île-aux-Tourtes] bridge falls into ruin ?”, I am quite certain that the majority, if not all, would answer “yes”,” she added.

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A new argument ?

For Geneviève Guilbault, the argument of economic security has not always justified the addition of a new link between Quebec and Lévis. In April 2023, when abandoning a previous interriver tunnel project, the Minister of Transport wanted to ensure that “the [existing] bridges are safe”.

“The Pierre-Laporte Bridge, […] we maintain it scrupulously, rigorously,” she had raised, a pile of satchels and studies in hand, before saying of the Quebec Bridge that “the structure was made in a way where […] you can replace the pieces as you go, in a way where it can last forever.”

“The bridges, they go last long. So, in the immediate future, there is no need to replace them,” she said to add.

Questioned on this subject on Thursday, the Deputy Prime Minister reiterated that there were no dangers associated with using the bridges at the moment, but was keen to raise the risks of “unforeseen events” for motorists. “Imagine if one day something happened,” she said.

The minister was also unable to provide journalists with the duration of the longest closures experienced by the Pierre-Laporte bridge.

The Quebec-Lévis tunnel project favored by the Coalition Avenir Québec until spring 2023 did not provide for the passage of heavy transport. Previously, the former Minister of Transport François Bonnardel had argued that a third link would, however, “secure the road network”.

Despite the Caisse's advice

At a press conference on Thursday, Minister Guilbault repeated that she wanted to “deliver projects to Quebec […] methodically” and “intelligently.”

Asked about his intentions to commission new studies before moving forward with a third link, Mr. Legault brushed aside out of hand this possibility. “I think there has been enough,” said the head of government on Thursday.

In its report published Wednesday on mobility in the National Capital, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec finds no argument justifying the construction of a bridge or a tunnel between the two banks. According to its analyses, such an infrastructure would only displace congestion and would only bring minimal time savings to motorists.

In its 140-page document, the Caisse simply points out that economic security goes beyond its mandate and passes the buck back to the government. “[It] could examine the need for a road link in relation to questions of economic security and transport of goods”, we can read.

In interview with Le Devoir, the professor of administrative sciences at Laval University Leandro C. Coelho indicates that the question of economic security is part of the discourse of the industry “for several years”.

“I cannot say if there is a major economic security issue, but from a logistical point of view, we are at risk, because for the transport of goods, it is the only link available,” indicated the who also holds the Canada Research Chair in Integrated Logistics.

Renovate the deck of the Quebec Bridge

Furthermore, is the addition of a bridge to the east the only solution to meet the challenges of heavy transport ? According to the federal minister and MP for riding of Quebec, Jean-Yves Duclos, no.

In the press scrum on Wednesday, he mentioned the possibility of taking advantage of the renovations planned on the Quebec Bridge to allow trucks to travel there and a rapid bus service to be installed there. “It would be a question of lowering the apron a little,” he said.

Questioned on this subject several times on Thursday, Mr. Legault said he did not to be aware and seemed to take the proposal little seriously. “We are going to look at this new discovery by Mr. Duclos,” he said before asserting that it seemed “to come out of his hat”. “This is the first time I’ve heard of that,” he continued.

With Roxane Léouzon and La Canadian Press

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116