This week I want to share an update on the status of the Third Crossing. In June City Council approved the construction of a new bridge across the Cataraqui River, but only once we receive confirmation of $60 million from the federal government. Right now the city and the province have each committed $60 million.
Over the last few months we’ve had very good dialogue with the federal government about the project. I am optimistic that we will secure federal funding in the next few months so we can move forward with detailed design and construction. There have been some suggestions that federal dollars for the new bridge might come with strings attached, such as requiring the city to take over the LaSalle Causeway, but I can confirm that this is not the case. There is a specific pool of federal infrastructure funding available for roads and bridges that the Third Crossing qualifies for.
So what happens now? The current plan for the Third Crossing calls for shovels in the ground in early 2019, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done first. The city has to put out a call to construction companies interested in bidding on the project and complete the final design. To make sure we hit the 2019 target, we need to start this other work soon. One approach the city can take is to put out the call for bids from construction firms in the next couple of months, with the condition that no money flow until the federal $60 million is confirmed. Several other municipalities waiting for federal funding have taken this approach in order to not delay construction and risk increased construction costs. The federal government is supportive of this approach and it ensures that everyone can hit the ground running once all the funding is in place.
I have also asked for a meeting with Public Works Canada to discuss my concerns with the LaSalle Causeway. There have been a number of unplanned closures recently that have caused frustration for a lot of residents. I hope to get more details about repairs and maintenance scheduled for the Causeway so we are all better informed. Travel across the Cataraqui River is a critical need for our community and I will continue to push for both the Third Crossing and the LaSalle Causeway in the days ahead.