09/17/2014 01:51 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:56 EDT

New Champlain Bridge needs at least $2.60 toll to break even

The new Champlain Bridge needs a toll of between $2.60 and $3.90 for each passage if it’s to pay for itself, according to a report compiled by the parliamentary budget officer.

It was NDP transport critic and Brossard-La Prairie MP Hoang Mai who asked the parliamentary budget officer to look into what a workable toll structure on the Champlain Bridge might look like.

The new bridge, which is slated for completion in 2018, is expected to cost between $3 billion and $5 billion.

Both federal Opposition parties the NDP and the Liberals, the provincial government and the city are all against a toll for the new bridge.

However, the Harper government has been adamant: no toll, no new bridge.

The bridge is to be built through a public-private partnership, meaning revenue from tolls would cover the cost of building and maintaining the bridge.

Cost analysis

Parliamentary budget officer Jean-Denis Fréchette said the minimum the government could charge to break even on construction and maintain the bridge is $1.40 per crossing. But that amount doesn’t include taxes or financing costs.

The amount that would maximize profit would be $9.10 per crossing, but the parliamentary budget officer said that would drive 40 per cent of traffic to other routes and cause significant congestion.

So the workable number the budget officer zeroes in on is somewhere between $2.60 and $3.90 per crossing.

The report estimated that a $2.60 toll would cause 3.4 per cent of drivers to use another bridge, while a $3.90 toll would cause 10.6 per cent of drivers to turn around. A $9.10 toll, the report said, would make 38 per cent of drivers use other bridges, particularly the Mercier Bridge.

The proposed tolls would cost a South Shore resident who drives to work every day an additional $1,800 to $2,000 a year.