First it was the Turcot Interchange, then the Champlain Bridge -- now the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine Tunnel will get a major facelift.
On Monday, the Montreal, Quebec and Canadian governments announced they will contribute to a major restructuring of the tunnel that links Montreal to the South Shore.
The work will also include renovations to the section of Highway 25 between Charron Island and the Sherbrooke Interchange as well as the construction of public transit infrastructure along the axis of Highways 25 and 20.
The provincial and federal governments will jointly invest $500 million into the project, which will be overseen by the Quebec government.
"We're making sure that an asset which was built and designed in the 20th century will serve Montrealers and those on the South Shore for the 21st century," said Federal Infrastructure Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne.
The total cost of the work will be known following the tender process. Work is set to begin in the spring of 2020 and will take place over four years.
There will be one lane closure in each direction -- and perhaps more on weekends, explained project director Alexandre Debs.
"We could have some weekends with some closures but we will try to keep always one lane in each direction," he said.
In a statement, the three governments said the work is expected to survive for at least 40 years.
"The Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel represents a vital link between the island of Montreal and the South Shore. I am therefore delighted by the financial participation of the Government of Canada in the major rehabilitation project,” said Quebec Transport Minister Chantal Rouleau in a statement. “This project will ensure the maintenance of one of our most important road infrastructures in Quebec and even in Canada. In addition, the implementation of important public transit mitigation measures, many of which will be maintained after the work, will provide citizens with options to travel differently. "
The tunnel, the longest submerged highway tunnel in Canada, will have new pavement, lighting, signage and a fire protection system installed. Included in the upgrade will be more than 25 kilometres of lanes prioritized for buses, as well as 850 parking spaces and new bus platforms to help encourage public transport.
"We invite the people to take the bus. It will be easier to cross the South Shore to Montreal by bus line," said Quebec Junior Transport Minister Chantale Rouleau.
Despite the upgrade, the tunnel is safe, Rouleau added.
"There is no problem of security, because we did a lot of inspectations of the tunnel," she said.
Built in 1967, about 120,000 vehicles use the tunnel per day, 13 per cent of which are trucks.
"It is an important infrastructure for our industry. it leads to the port of Montreal and it also serves many companies that are situated in la region de Monteregie, Boucherville," explained Marc Cadieux of the Quebec Trucking Association. "Any type of congestion, delays, more time to deliver our goods have impacted our costs of operation. We cannot perform as we used to on deliveries every day, we need more equipment, we need more staff."
- CTV Montreal's Matt Grillo contributed the this report.