New bridge on Île d’Orléans: Big mess for the apple season in sight

New bridge on Île d’Orléans: Big mess for the apple season in sight

Preparatory work for the construction project of the new bridge over the Île d’Orléans will begin the week of August 15, coinciding with the start of the apple season, with growers fearing the worst.

• Also read: Start of the preparatory work for the new bridge of the Île d’Orléans

These works will consist of a first phase of the rehabilitation of the Côte du Pont.

Listen to Alexandre Dubé’s interview with Jacques Paradis, owner of Domaine Orléans in Saint-Pierre, on Radio QUB:

This project, which will run until 2024, envisages the complete reconstruction of the roadway, the installation of new lighting and signaling systems, the securing of the area by replacing the crash barriers and the rehabilitation of the Chemin Royal junction and Route vor Prevost.

The patience of the islanders, as well as visitors, who will be particularly numerous in picking their own apples from mid-August, will therefore be tested, since the first phase of this first stage is scheduled to last until November 2022 and will require the installation of various traffic barriers on the coast of the Bridge.

The current bridge hampered by preparatory works on the Côte du Pont.

Photo agency QMI, Marcel Tremblay

The current bridge hampered by preparatory works on the Côte du Pont.

The current bridge, commissioned in 1935, is nearing the end of its useful life and no longer meets current standards.

On average, almost 12,000 vehicles use it every day, and up to 15,000 in summer.

The Ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ) will ensure that two lanes with a minimum width of 3.2 m will remain “in principle” during the work.

The reconstruction of the Côte du Pont culvert is being carried out in one direction at a time, 24 hours a day, over a period of about a week.

“These operations will result in cross-traffic,” the MTQ said in a press release issued Monday.

“Various means are being deployed to limit the inconvenience to road users, including the commissioning of temporary lanes.”

A virtual public information session will take place on Wednesday, August 17 at 7 p.m. to present the project as a whole, as well as the upcoming interventions. Interested citizens should register in advance.

The schedule for installing these barriers is subject to change due to weather conditions or operational constraints.

After two years of the pandemic, there are many fears among producers on the island who fear losing their customers.

– Start of preparatory work: mid-August

– Planned commissioning: end of 2027

– Pre-project studies: Groupement Origine (consisting of the companies Stantec and EXP)

– Length: 2.1 km

– Location: approx. 120 m west of the current bridge

– Cost: more than $100 million (final cost to be determined)

– The current bridge was inaugurated in July 1935

Source: MTQ

Apple growers, for whom the end of summer is a very busy time, fear work on the Côte du Pont will make customers turn their backs.

“It’s absurd that they’re doing this during the busiest time of the year, which for us starts from August 15 to October,” criticized Jacques Paradis, owner of Domaine Orléans in Saint-Pierre.

Mr Paradis wants local elected officials to intervene to challenge this schedule, which he says “makes no sense”.

As traffic on the island is not easy at this time of year, Mr. Paradis does not understand why the Department of Transport is launching this project which will create significant obstacles.

“The people on the island will still pay for this. It’s still the same problem. We heard that the bridge should be built for at least 25 years. There’s never anyone who says, “That doesn’t look right. Stop promising us things you can’t deliver,” he says.

“We can’t do anything individually. We are represented by elected officials, but we never hear about it. It’s up to them to say it doesn’t make sense.”

The strike by Quebec’s 1,800 government engineers, who walked out three times between April and June, would explain why preparatory work has been delayed.

“Normally it was supposed to start on May 6th, but with the engineers’ strike it was delayed for that reason. If work had started on May 6, the site would have been quite advanced by September,” said Richard Giguère, owner of the R. Giguère farm in Sainte-Famille.

The latter fears the wait to access the island will deter self-selectors.

“The world turns around in turn. The crossing takes 2h, 2h30. Even then it takes time,” the producer said.

“It’s an important season for us. In addition, we have been struggling for two years because of COVID,” he said.

“As long as it’s finished, the ministry could have postponed the start of work until next spring,” said Mr. Giguère, who grows plums, plums, pears and apples.