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Montreal’s new Samuel De Champlain Bridge will open to traffic on June 24.

Christinne Muschi/The Globe and Mail

Montreal’s new Samuel de Champlain Bridge will open to traffic on June 24, roughly six months behind schedule.

Federal Infrastructure Minister François-Philippe Champagne announced the date today.

The $4.2-billion bridge over the St. Lawrence River will open first to traffic headed to Montreal, and a week later, on July 1, the lanes headed off the island will open.

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But Ottawa and the consortium in charge of construction have still not resolved what penalty will be paid for the late completion of a project initially scheduled to be ready last December.

Under the contract with the consortium, Signature sur le Saint-Laurent, penalties were set at $100,000 a day for the first seven days, then $400,000 a day for subsequent days, with a ceiling of $150-million. Analysts have said the penalty could hit $75-million.

The 3.4-kilometre span will open in two phases to ensure a smooth, safe transition of traffic from the crumbling bridge it replaces, which was built in 1962.

Mr. Champagne said in an interview there will be a price paid for the delay.

“I have always said that if there are delays, there will be consequences,” he said. “The discussions are going to continue, because in a project of this size, there will always be demands.”

If the two parties are unable to resolve their differences, it will be up to a court to decide, he added.

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