The 1950s saw suburbs spring up like mushrooms, to say nothing of the proliferation of cars! Many young families moved to Montreal's South Shore. Inevitably, this migration and the accompanying increase in vehicles on the road brought new problems. Traffic jams became a growing annoyance for those who craved the tranquillity and quality of life across the river. The need to link Montreal to Sherbrooke and major U.S. cities made a solution all the more pressing.
On August 17, 1955, the Minister of Transport made an unexpected announcement: a toll bridge would be built, starting from the banks of Nuns' Island. The project became the responsibility of the National Harbours Board, and work got under way in 1957. Opened to traffic on June 28, 1962, the six-lane Champlain Bridge, named after the founder of Québec City (1608), eased congestion on the other bridges, and provided an express route to the Eastern Townships and the United States. The bridge is unique for its length, as well as the number and weight of its girders.
At the same time, however, the construction of the Expo 67 islands had reduced the width of the St. Lawrence River, heightening the risk of ice jams and flooding. The federal Department of Transport placed the Canadian Coast Guard, which comes under Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in charge of an ice bridge built in 1964-1965 to control the ice. The Champlain Bridge Ice Control Structure was erected downstream from Laprairie Basin, but is no longer in service, as icebreakers are now used.