Île d'Orléans Bridge: no major issue, says the BAPE
On average, 15,200 vehicles travel on the bridge every day in summer.
The project to replace the Île d’Orléans bridge does not pose a significant threat to the environment, according to a report filed Friday by the Bureau d’audiences publiques en environnement (BAPE). However, some improvements would be useful.
At the end of the targeted consultation, the BAPE commission of inquiry holds that the construction of a new bridge is required to link Île d'Orléans to the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, because the current bridge does not satisfy not meet today's road standards and that it is vulnerable to a major earthquake. In addition, the bridge cannot be preserved given that a repair would not ensure its safety if such an earthquake occurred, that this repair would be expensive and that no organization has come forward to take charge of it. given the high maintenance costs that this would entail.
Following its analysis, the commission of inquiry considers that the project to build the new Île d'Orléans bridge does not present any major issues. It reaches this conclusion taking into account the mitigation and compensation measures proposed by the proponent and the requirements set out by the departments that participated in the targeted consultation. Nevertheless, improvements to the project would be appropriate to reduce the environmental footprint of the bridge on wetlands and bodies of water, for compensation related to fish habitat, to limit the inconvenience of the work and improve public safety.
The avenues of compensation through creation and restoration work for the permanent losses of wetlands and water bodies caused by the realization of the project should be part of the regional plan for wetlands and water bodies of the MRC of Île-d'Orléans or any other regional plan if the compensation had to be done elsewhere.
Furthermore, the Ministère des Transports should present its communication plan relating to the maintenance of road traffic on the existing bridge and its surroundings to the municipalities of Île d'Orléans as well as to the City of Québec in order to gather their comments and optimize the flow of traffic during the works. During the work, it should provide for an annual information campaign aimed at visitors and tourists, particularly from the greater Quebec City region, to encourage them to continue to visit Île d'Orléans, given the the economic importance of tourism and agritourism to Islanders.
Finally, the Department of Transportation should examine with the National Capital Commission of Quebec, the Société des establishments de plein air du Québec and the City of Quebec the interconnections and the points of convergence that cyclists and pedestrians would cross in order to ensure optimal and safe functionality of the facilities planned for active transportation in the northern sector of its project.