October 23, 2007

CAA-Quebec comments on Johnson report into Boulevard de la Concorde overpass collapse

Quebec, Quebec – CAA-Quebec says it is “very satisfied” with a report from the inquiry into the 2006 Boulevard de la Concorde overpass collapse, but believes a “fundamental piece of the puzzle is missing” when it comes to ensuring the long-term safety and quality of Quebec’s road infrastructures. The association is calling for a guarantee of sustainability, in the form of a public fund dedicated to pursuing this social project.

The report concluded that a “chain of causes” over the course of 35 years caused the overpass to collapse on September 30, 2006, killing five people and injuring six others, but that no single person or group could be held responsible for it. The commission did blame several sources, including the Transport Ministry, for neglecting maintenance and ignoring long-term problems with the structure.

“We have a report that not only gives us answers, but also provides tools, as well as a minister who reacts forcefully to an urgent situation; it’s high time we saw this sort of synergy,” said Sophie Gagnon, Director, Public and Government Relations, CAA-Quebec. “CAA-Quebec welcomes all the actions announced today – aggressive investments, an objective of transparency for road users, internal review mechanisms within the Transport Ministry, and most notably the creation of an independent agency responsible for bridges and overpasses – but only at first glance.

“The creation of an agency is more than welcome news, but it must be able to rely on secure revenue over the long term, and only a dedicated fund can ensure that. We believe the government missed a valuable opportunity in its announcement today to give even more credibility to its determination to ensure the safe, long-term survival of our road infrastructure.”

CAA-Quebec says the lack of dedicated public funding “won’t impress motorists,” especially given that the report calls for adoption of a user-pay principle. “Every political party in Quebec should be able to conclude that the principle has been around for at least 20 years, and in that time, the users of our bridges, overpasses and roads have paid far more than what the government has invested,” Gagnon says.

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