Repair work continues on the Champlain Bridge crossing the St-Lawrence river seen from the south shore of Montreal Wednesday.

Repair work continues on the Champlain Bridge crossing the St-Lawrence river seen from the south shore of Montreal Wednesday.

Champlain Bridge slated for replacement

Repair work continues on the Champlain Bridge crossing the St. Lawrence River seen from the south shore of Montreal Wednesday in Brossard, Que.

Repair work continues on the Champlain Bridge crossing the St. Lawrence River seen from the south shore of Montreal Wednesday in Brossard, Que.

After months of studied silence about the future of Montreal’s Champlain Bridge, the federal government announced Wednesday that it will replace the rapidly deteriorating infrastructure as soon as possible.

Building a new span to Montreal’s south shore could take as long as 10 years and cost $5 billion, but Transport Minister Denis Lebel suggested it would also create 30,000 jobs and be paid for by a toll system.

“This project will be one of the most important of the decade,” Lebel said. “Given the importance of a project like this, we will do it as quickly as possible but while respecting the quality of the construction.” The Champlain Bridge is among the busiest in the country, carrying around 60 million vehicles annually.