The consortium building the $3.2-billion Champlain Bridge in Montreal has sued Canada’s government for $93 million, claiming transportation officials gave it late notice of stricter load limits that could add to delay and make it liable for tens of millions of dollars in penalties, according to Canadian press reports and a stock analyst’s comments. A spokeswoman for the team’s lead firm, engineer-contractor SNC-Lavalin, confirms the March 28 filing in Quebec Superior Court but declined further comment.
A penalty of more than $300,000 a day kicks in if the team, known as Signature Saint Lawrence, misses the Dec. 1, 2018, deadline for finishing work on the crossing, according to the National Bank Financial analysis. The project, a public-private partnership, faces a three-month delay due to the load limits, said the bank report, citing a Montreal newspaper. That could result in a $27-million penalty over 90 days, the report estimates. Media say the load limits were not communicated until well into 2016, more than a year after construction began.
However, the consortium website states, “Our objective to deliver the bridge on December 1, 2018, remains unchanged.” SNC-Lavalin is a 50% partner in the consortium, which also includes contractors ACS, Hochtief, Flatiron, Dragados, MMM Group, TY Lin International and International Bridge Technologies Canada. The consortium has more than 900 large components—360 concrete segments and 600 steel box girders, among them—that have required special transportation permits for worksite delivery, according to the website.
“Considering that new load limitations have been imposed on certain provincial and federal infrastructures over the past year, including notably the Turcot Interchange and the Champlain Bridge, we had to adapt our strategy to limit transportation by road, opting for greater use of marine and rail transport,” the consortium website says.