Here is information about bridges and highways in and around Quebec City. If you are travelling along AutoRoute 20 on the south shore (or slow-poking it on the incredibly charming Route 132), you’ll need to cross the bridges (or take the Quebec City-Levis passenger ferry).
If you are approaching Quebec city on AutoRoute 40 on the north shore, you can continue east further and take a ferry across the fast-widening St Lawrence estuary, or cross to the south shore here.
on the north side, before continuing past Quebec City:
- (1) the Quebec City fortress & boardwalk overlooking the St Lawrence
- (2) the Montmorency Falls (higher than Niagara Falls, and
- (3) I’le d’Orleans to the east of Quebec City.
Quebec City Bridge
Levis on the south shore and Quebec City on the north shores we connected by a ferry system since the earliest days of settlement. By 1850, locals knew the ferry system was inadequate, and a permanent bridge was required.
The Quebec Bridge (Pont de Québec, in French) is a road/rail/pedestrian bridge across the lower Saint Lawrence River. The bridge connects Sainte-Foy (once a separate community but since 2002 a western suburb of Quebec City) and Lévis. The project failed twice, at the cost of 88 lives, and took over 30 years to complete.
A bridge was considered, to replace the ferry, several times: 1852, 1867, 1882, and 1884. It was not until local MP Wilfrid Laurier became Prime Minister in 1896 that it became a priority. The first bridge was funded with a bond issue in 1903, and construction began in 1940 and was close to completion in 1907 when the south arm and the central span collapsed. In 15 seconds 75 workers were killed and 11 others were injured.
Following a Royal Commission (1907-1908) to investigate the collapse, a second bridge attempt was started, and this time close to completion in 1916 as the central span was being lifted into position by cranes, it fell into the river, killing 13 workers. German sabotage was initially suspected but not proven, and a second central span was successfully lifted into position for the bridge to open in 1919.
The Quebec Bridge is a riveted steel truss structure and is 987 m (3,238 ft) long, 29 m (95 ft) wide, and 104 m (341 ft) high. Cantilever arms 177 m (581 ft) long support a 195 m (640 ft) central structure, for a total span of 549 m (1,801 ft). It is still the longest cantilever bridge span in the world, and was the longest span in the world until the 1929 Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit-Windsor. It is the easternmost (farthest downstream) land crossing of the Saint Lawrence.
The bridge load changed over the years. In 1917, the bridge opened to railway traffic, with two rail lines and a streetcar line until 1929. Then a roadbed was added for motor vehicles in addition to the street car and a rail line until 1949. It carried two road lanes and a rail line until 1993, and three road lanes and a rail line since then. The bridge has been owned by the Canadian National Railway since 1993, and was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1995.
Pierre Laporte Bridge
By 1960, the Quebec Bridge no longer met traffic demands, and a new bridge was needed. This bridge was started in 1966 and completed in 1970. It was the first suspension bridge in Canada supported entirely by cables of parallel wires, suspended from the pylons that rise 35 storeys above the river, and anchored by blocks on the cliffs on both ends of the bridge.
The Pierre Laporte Bridge (French: Pont Pierre-Laporte) is the longest main span suspension bridge in Canada. It crosses the Saint Lawrence River approximately 200 metres (660 ft) west of the famous Quebec Bridge between historic Quebec City and Lévis, Quebec. It is the longest non-tolled suspension bridge in the world.
It was originally named the New Quebec Bridge and was supposed to be called Pont Frontenac (Frontenac Bridge) until it was renamed in honour of Quebec Vice-Premier Pierre Laporte, who was kidnapped and murdered during the October Crisis of 1970, while construction of the bridge was nearing completion.
The bridge carries Autoroute 73, north from Autoroute 20, the Trans-Canada Highway, to Quebec City and Autoroute 40, and northwards towards Saguenay, Quebec.
A-40 at Quebec
In addition, a different route was originally planned around Sainte-Foy (now in the west end of Quebec City) south of Jean Lesage International Airport (the existing 12 km (7 mi) segment of Autoroute 40 between St-Augustin and Autoroute 73. A40 continues eastward with a northward dogleg using A573/A73 (or if you miss that exist, continue east on 440 and a dogleg north on 740).
A-40 ends just before the bridge to the beautiful I’le d’Orleans and the waterfalls at Montmorency, There it transitions into Route 138, which follows the north shore of the Gulf of St Lawrence, and a road link to Labrador.
Churchill Falls Power Lines
Just east of the exit for Chemin St Roch (S) and Route Lallemand (N), about 18 km east of Quebec City, you will see three high-tension lines (735 000 volts) passing over the highway. These carry electricity over 1,203 km, from the Churchill Falls and Manicouagan-Outardes hydroelectric complexes to Montreal.
This type of structure is often encountered at various points in the Quebec countryside. The distance spanned between two towers by such wires is often impressive. Though where the lines cross the St. Lawrence over ile d’Orleans, to the south shore, there are two towers mounted on bases in the River, which suspend the high-voltage cables over a distance of 1,584 metres (almost a mile).
Only the span crossing the Saguenay River, to the northeast of Quebec City, is greater at span is 1,791 metres. The cables must be raised high enough that at their lowest point over the river, there is sufficient clearance for all ocean-going traffic (including container ships and cruise liners) that passes below.
These lines have a capacity of 1,000 to 2,000 megawatts each, and can supply electricity for 3,000,000 people. The electricity they carry supplies the Quebec City area and the south shore of Montreal.
Trans-Canada Highway Itinerary Map
Use mouse to drag/move map. Click on “+” or “–” to zoom in or out. “Satellite” combines map & photo.