Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024

Floods: Quebec has no intention of raising the Lac-Beauport bridges

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The main bridges of Lac-Beauport crossing the Yellow River are too low for the Municipality's liking in a context of climate change.

  • David Rémillard (View profile)David Rémillard

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The Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility (MTMD) does not intend to raise the Lac-Beauport bridges, considered too low by elected officials and municipal authorities. Quebec, however, undertakes to better coordinate messages to the population in the event of prolonged closure of works.

Radio-Canada reported Monday the concerns of the Lac-Beauport town hall and its general director about the bridges spanning the Yellow River. During the last flood to occur in the territory, the four main bridges were closed at one time or another by the MTMD.

At some point point, on December 18, all access to the Mont-Cervin, Exalt and Chemin de l'Éperon districts were blocked for several hours at the request of the Ministry, isolating nearly 3,200 residents.

Faced with the increased frequency of flooding on the Yellow River, which only rose three times in 2023, the Municipality of Lac-Beauport fears prolonged and recurring enclaves. The main bridges are all too low to absorb the seasonal floods of the Yellow River. […] I imagine that the Ministry will have to raise its bridges sooner or later, affirmed in an interview the general director of Lac-Beauport, Richard Labrecque.

For us, confinement of 24 to 72 hours for 3,000 people makes no sense, added Mayor Charles Brochu.

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The Yellow River burst its banks last December, flooding 48 residences , some of which will be total loss.

Richard Labrecque met with representatives of the MTMD on Monday to share his concerns with them, but also to improve emergency communications in the event of bridge closures. Caught on the phone after this meeting, the latter said he was satisfied with the commitments made by Quebec.

According to him, the Ministry is is shown to be open to more flexibility and to reassessing the situation for each of the bridges in the event of flooding. Mr. Labrecque took care to make civil servants aware of the consequences of decisions taken quickly or communicated too late to the Municipality as well as to the population.

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He notably reported cases of children returning from school by school bus on the day of the floods last December, before the infrastructure closed. A few moments later, parents could no longer enter the homes due to Ministry decisions.

Lac-Beauport was thus forced to contravene MTMD directives and allow parents separated from their children to pass.

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The Lac-Beauport bridges are closed regularly due to the flooding of the Yellow River, like here in 2020 . (File photo)

If Lac-Beauport and Quebec agree to better predict such events and warn residents more quickly, there was no question of raising the bridges in the short or medium term. On this point, Mr. Labrecque remains worried about the future and maintains that the works are too low.

There is no short or medium term reconstruction project for the Mélèzes, Brûlé and Simons Falls bridges in the Ministry's planning, confirms Émilie Lord, spokesperson at MTMD. These three structures provide access to the Mont-Cervin and Exalt districts where 3,000 people live.

There is also no question of raising the Chemin de l'Éperon bridge, rebuilt in 2023 at a cost of 2. $3 million.

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The Éperon bridge is new this year and cost 2.3 million dollars to taxpayers.

In the latter case, Lac-Beauport had warned the Ministry that the bridge would be too low under the design plans presented to the Municipality. They didn't listen to us, Mayor Charles Brochu lamented this week.

The MTMD for its part pleads that its structure is solid and planned by considering, among other things, the flood events of the Yellow River. The flood zones used, however, have not been updated for many years, while new maps are expected by the end of 2024.

On the potential for flooding, the MTMD suggests that an enhancement may prove unnecessary if the environment of insertion of the infrastructure is located in a flood zone.

The raising of a bridge may prove non-essential, particularly if the roadway upstream or downstream is located in a flood zone.

A quote from Émilie Lord, spokesperson, Ministry of Transport and Sustainable Mobility

Ms. Lord adds that the Ministry also had to deal with the framework built from Chemin de l'Éperon to Lac-Beauport and respect the presence of residential entrances in the area.

The Ministry also denies having caused the December floods. It is imperative to consider the exceptional rains of December. The swelling of the Yellow River did not cause any damage to the structure newly constructed by the Ministry, even if the water rose near the soffit of the bridge.

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The MTMD is responsible for closing the roads under its responsibility in the event of a climatic or accidental event. (File photo)

The general director of Lac-Beauport, Richard Labrecque, also noticed this year a change in the MTMD's practices regarding the closure of bridges. Rather than closing the roads when the water reaches the deck, Quebec closed the bridges as soon as they reached the soffits, almost a meter lower in some cases.

Without specifying how, the Ministry cryptically confirms that it has indeed changed its practices, which are continuously evolving.

The precision of knowledge and experience which is progressing in all areas (hydraulics, structures, geotechnics, earthquakes, climate change, etc.) is also reflected in the updating of procedures, it is indicated.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">The recurrence of claims is also one of the elements analyzed. Public safety being an important element, the Ministry focuses on prevention, particularly when the recurrence of events in the same sector increases over a given period.

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