The major repair of the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel will be much more disruptive and costly than expected, the Ministry of Transport of Quebec (MTQ) announced on Thursday.
Posted at 1:25 p.m
“We are not making this announcement lightly today, we wanted to be as transparent as possible,” said Transport Minister François Bonnardel at a press conference on Thursday, specifying that on Wednesday the Council of Ministers had been informed “of the return from vacation”.
“We will offer the best possible mitigation measures,” promised Transport Minister Chantal Rouleau.
The region’s public transport operators “will come quickly to us with a strong plan” to improve their service, Minister Rouleau said, noting in particular an extension of the River Shuttle service and the free use of four bus routes from this period of major congestion .
A “new tunnel”
“Put simply, we are building a new tunnel into the existing tunnel,” summarized an MTQ official in a technical presentation ahead of the press conference.
Instead of the initially planned repairs to the walls and vault as part of the major repairs to the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel that began in 2020, the walls and vault will have to be covered with over-thick concrete. Since this work has to be carried out in a “closed tube”, the two tubes, each with three lanes in one direction, will be closed one after the other. Traffic in both directions will then be split into the three remaining lanes, with two lanes bound for Montreal and one bound for the South Shore.
The three lanes bound for South Shore (South Tube) will be closed beginning November 2022 for 18 months through 2024, and then those bound for Montreal (North Tube) for the following 18 months through 2025.
The start date of the closure next November has yet to be confirmed.
The structure has proved to be much more deteriorated than expected, the ministry said. For example, the Vault would have 60% more damage than expected.
This scenario will add $900 million to the bill.
Despite the planned mitigation measures, “very large” effects are to be expected both when entering the tunnel and when exiting the tunnel, the MTQ recognized.
Around 120,000 vehicles use the tunnel every day, 13% of which are trucks.
Mr. Bonnardel is also Minister responsible for the Estrie region, while Mrme Rouleau is the minister in charge of metropolitan and regional Montreal.