Ottawa invests $1 billion over 25 years to preserve the Quebec Bridge

By taking over the Quebec Bridge, the Government of Canada announced that it will invest $40 million per year, over 25 years, for a total of $1 billion, to “ensure the long-term viability” of this “essential and history” more than a century old. Half of the funds will be used to paint the heavily rusted heritage gem.

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This is what the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, made known Wednesday morning during a well-attended press briefing held at the Quebec Aquarium with the Quebec Bridge in the background.

Photo Stevens LeBlanc

After long years of promises and negotiations, Mr. Trudeau confirmed that Ottawa has reached an agreement with Canadian National (CN), which had owned the rusty infrastructure since 1993. Technically speaking, the federal government will become the owner again from of September 30 after paying a symbolic dollar to CN.

Payments from CN and Quebec

The $1B, over 25 years, will not come exclusively from federal pockets. It includes different amounts that will be paid to Ottawa, over several years, by CN and the government of Quebec.

Under the agreement, CN will pay $6.1 million per year, over 25 years, to the federal government, for a total of $152.5 million. Over a period of 50 years, and including indexation, CN’s participation will amount to approximately $350 million, confirmed federal Liberal Minister Pablo Rodriguez.

Photo Stevens LeBlanc

We must also include the money that the Quebec government pays for the rental of the infrastructure, i.e. $100 million over 10 years. This agreement, signed at the last minute in the fall of 2022, will have to be renegotiated in 2032.

If the repair of the Quebec Bridge and its painting remain the absolute priority in the eyes of Prime Minister Trudeau, the federal government has not ruled out putting forward various projects that have been discussed in recent years. This is particularly the case for periodic lighting of the infrastructure or better accessibility to the bridge to make it a place for tourists to visit.

Note also that CN, while transferring the bridge, will continue to administer and assume the management costs of the rail aspect of the infrastructure.

Photo Stevens LeBlanc

Extend lifespan

“These investments will extend the useful life of the bridge for decades to come, in particular by increasing the frequency of replacement of parts,” we can read in a press release.

It also indicates that “the rehabilitation program also includes a contribution component for the painting and aesthetics of the historic infrastructure”.

More than 33,000 vehicles, including cars, transit buses, passenger trains and freight trains, cross the bridge every day. In addition, during the summer months, around 1,000 pedestrians and cyclists use it daily.

Photo Stevens LeBlanc

What they said

  • “It is absolutely essential that the Quebec Bridge remains open, safe and functional […] Today, we are fulfilling our promise,” Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.
  • “Today we are experiencing a great day for our region […] This event marks a historic turning point to ensure the future of this emblematic infrastructure,” Jean-Yves Duclos, federal Liberal minister.
  • “It took a while, but today is good news […] We need it [du pont]yes for mobility, but we especially need it for our soul, for who we are in Quebec,” Jonatan Julien, minister responsible for the Capitale-Nationale region.
  • “There is nothing happening today if there is no political will […] Today is a huge day for the people of Quebec,” Bruno Marchand, mayor of Quebec.
  • “The Quebec Bridge is an element of identity for Quebec and Lévis. For us, this is excellent news,” Gilles Lehouillier, mayor of Lévis.
  • “We are very happy with the agreement. We are also very happy to be able to maintain rail operations on the bridge,” Martin Guimond, vice-president of transport for Canadian National (CN).
  • “Although we are happy that an agreement has finally been put in place, we cannot deny that the amounts to be invested have increased and that the condition of the bridge has greatly deteriorated since then,” Joint statement from the five Conservative federal MPs from the greater Quebec region.
  • ” Finally! After years of repeated requests from regional elected officials, the population and the Bloc Québécois which tirelessly brought this issue to Ottawa, the federal government is finally proceeding with the purchase of the Quebec bridge and the renovation that we insisted on”, Julie Vignola, member of the Bloc Québécois.

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