By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor
and Reed Black, Land Line Now staff reporter
Here’s a heads up for truckers who travel through Montreal, Canada, on occasion: Trucks are currently prohibited in the westbound lanes of the Honoré-Mercier Bridge. The trouble is that the warning signs under provincial jurisdiction are all in French, and local enforcement is eager to ticket out-of-area trucks.
The weight restriction went into effect at the end of 2010 for westbound traffic traveling from Montreal into Châteauguay as the province of Quebec, the Canadian government and private contractors work to rehab the 76-year-old bridge deck.
And this isn’t any ordinary bridge project. It’s being advertised as “the largest bridge rehabilitation project ever undertaken in Canada.”
OOIDA Member Ronald Ducap of Montreal is a former trucker who now drives a bus. He travels the bridge route often, and buses are not part of the restriction.
“I can see all the trucks that are not from Quebec getting pulled over and getting tickets,” Ducap said. “They give you a fair warning from every direction you can think of, but it’s in French.”
There’s a reason for that, says Andre Girard, vice president of communications for Federal Bridge Corp.. It has to do with provincial and federal jurisdictions in and around Montreal, which is not only a city, but an island.
“One side of the island is provincial, so signage on there is all French,” Girard told Land Line Now on Sirius XM.
“The other side, the western side of the bridge, is federal, so on our section of the bridge is bilingual English-French signage, but the minute you cross the island and get on the provincial bridge, then it’s all French.”
Girard says a Quebec law, which was passed in 1977, governs written words on signage, and the province will sometimes use a combination of symbols and written signs.
He recommends that heavy carriers use alternate routes such as the Champlain Bridge or the Monseigneur-Langlois Bridge, via westbound Autoroute 20.
Ducap told Land Line Magazine he saw three trucks pulled over during a catch-and-release by law enforcement on Thursday, Feb. 10.
“These are U.S. trucks and Ontario trucks that don’t understand it,” he said. “Quebec trucks understand it.”
The bridge project is ongoing. Eventually, the entire deck will be replaced. Currently, the restriction applies only to westbound traffic.
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