The Jacques-Cartier Bridge (Pont Jacques-Cartier) is one of Montreal's five main links to the suburban city of Longueuil, on the South Shore (Rive-Sud) of the St. Lawrence River.
The bridge is 3.4 kilometers long, with exit/entrance ramps at the midway point connecting it to Ile Sainte-Helene. Roughly 43 million cars use the bridge annually. The bridge has five vehicle lanes with no center barrier. During the morning rush hour three lanes are open towards Montreal and two towards the South Shore. This is reversed during evening rush hour. Off peak hours have two lanes open in each direction, and late-night configuration is one lane open in each direction.
One interesting feature of this bridge is a pedestrian sidewalk/bike path on both sides of the bridge. This allows for easy access for pedestrians and cyclists to Ile Sainte-Helene, in case they wish to visit La Ronde amusement park or the beach at Parc Jean-Drapeau. It is also one of the only ways to bike from the South Shore to Montreal continuously without using public transit. This access is closed off from November to March.
When the bridge was first being considered by politicians and local business interests, there was only one permanent link from Montreal to the South Shore, the Victoria Bridge, which was limited to one automobile lane in each direction along with its two railroad tracks. Drivers would even dare drive on the river ice during those few weeks in winter the St. Lawrence's surface froze.
Finally, in 1924, the Port of Montreal convinced the federal government to build the bridge as a project for the port itself, to be paid for with tolls. After competitions to decide the location and design of the bridge, work began in 1925. It completed early (!) and the bridge opened to traffic May 14, 1930, as the Harbour Bridge. There were three lanes open to traffic, with the two outermost lanes dedicated to Streetcars that never ended up using the bridge.
In 1934, a popular campaign by the editor of Montreal newspaper Le Devoir resulted in the bridge being renamed after the French explorer Jacques Cartier, to honour the 400th anniversary of his discovery (some would say rediscovery of Canada).
In the latter parts of the 1950s the bridge's fourth and fifth lanes were converted from streetcar tracks to normal automobile lanes. Also at this time, two of the bridge's decks were lifted from a height of 40 feet to a height of 120 feet to accommodate the St. Lawrence Seaway. In 1962 the toll was lifted as the bridge was considered fully paid for.
Recently, the bridge underwent a major and necessary re-decking project. During 2001 and 2002, the complete deck was replaced with a new one using 1680 prefabricated units at a cost of about 125 million Canadian dollars. The new deck would provide decades of cost savings, since the old one was in poor condition even with near-constant maintenance. Impressively, rush hour traffic was unaffected by the work, which was undertaken at night and on weekends.
http://www.pjcci.ca/English/JCCBI/default.htm (The Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated)