The worst structures in Quebec: nearly 400 bridges are to be replaced faster

Les pires structures du Québec: près de 400 ponts sont à remplacer au plus vite

Philippe Langlois

Nearly 400 bridges in Quebec require a replacement due to their poor condition, reveals a compilation made by our Bureau of investigation. And the situation is deteriorating as the amount of money required to keep them safe are constantly on the rise.

Tens of thousands of Quebecers who have chosen to stay here for their holidays due to the COVID-19 will have to trust the engineers of the ministry of Transport (MTQ) when they crisscross the roads.

They are the ones who sign the inspection reports of the 9600 road structures in Quebec.

Our Bureau of investigation has analyzed all of these reports, and present to you today a special folder that shows the bridges and overpasses the most dilapidated in the province.

Disturbing cracks on the bridge of the A520.

A significant proportion of these structures were built in the 1960s and 1970s and have reached the end of their useful life. Despite the investments in recent years, the deficit of maintenance, that is to say, the costs for the delays to repair or replace these structures, reached 18.7 G$.

There is an emergency

In June, upon the filing of the bill 61 to revive the economy, the ex-president of the treasury Board Christian Dubé reported that several bridges must be quickly rebuilt.

More precisely, 384 bridges are included in the category that is most critical, that is to say that they require a replacement. The MTQ is home to more than 1.5 million vehicle passages a daily basis.

This is in addition to over 2000 infrastructure whose condition is less serious, but which still require major work because a structure failed, their vulnerability to earthquakes, or the obsolescence of the materials.

Several of them have weight limitations, primarily for the trucking industry, rarely met.

The MTQ ensures that it is still safe to drive on bridges that require replacement.

“The department has an inspection program for earlier detection of defects that may affect the structures,” explains Émilie Lord, a spokesperson for the MTQ. When a particular situation requires it, the department can take the necessary measures to ensure the sustainability of structures. “

Within 10 years, Quebec has planned to inject with 26.8 G$ in its road network.

Half of these amounts has been reserved to bring order to the deficit of maintenance of assets.


66 % of bridges and overpasses of the MTQ were built in the 1960s and 1970s.

47 % of these structures are in a poor state.

41 years average age of the structures.

Source MTQ – QDI 2020-2021

What is the state of the bridge of your region ?

Our interactive map shows more than 2000 structures throughout the province. Learn more about their condition and check out the inspection reports.


XX combined Index (ICS)

The combined index, included between 0 and 100, gives a good idea of the general condition of the bridge. It is composed of three indices, or the seismic vulnerability, the state of the structure and its ability to play its role. The lower the index, the more the bridge is vulnerable.

XX Index of material of the structure (IMS)

It allows to follow the evolution of the state of the materials of the bridge. Defects such as the disintegration of the concrete, steel corrosion or wood decay, shall be taken into consideration. The results are expressed on a scale of 0 to 100. The number 100 corresponds to the best condition.

Delays maintenance accumulate

Costs related to delays in the maintenance of the infrastructure of the quebec road network have jumped almost$ 3 billion in less than a year to reach the record amount of 18.7 G$.

Quebec is short on solutions to curb this escalation.

In 2019, the quebec roads have a maintenance deficit record of$ 16 billion, according to data from the MTQ.

Gabriel Assaf, professor at the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), mentioned while in the Journal that we are headed towards a cul-de-sac, and this, in spite of record investments of nearly$ 2.5 billion, while planned for 2019-2020.

Not everything said

Last may, during the crisis of the COVID-19, the minister of Transport, François Bonnardel has announced an investment of$ 3.2 billion that will be spent on our roads in disarray, ” he said.

But what he did not say at this time is that the bill for maintaining the network also had exploded to almost$ 3 billion in additional.

According to sources, the department is so overwhelmed by events that he would try to find a new way to calculate the maintenance deficit, failing to be able to control it.

The deficit of maintenance of assets of the road network

  • Structures (bridges and culverts) the network top $9.5 billion
  • Bridges of the municipal network 0.8 G$
  • Culverts of less than three metres of$1 billion
  • Network pavements top $7.4 billion

A Total Of 18.7 G$

Planned investments in the next 10 years

  • Support of the deficit of maintenance of assets 13.1 G$
  • Maintenance of assets $7.6 billion
  • Replacement $1.5 Billion
  • Bonus of the park (new projects) $4.6 billion

Total 26,8 G$

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