09/04/2013 18:05 EDT | Updated 11/04/2013 05:12 EST

Montreal's bridges, tunnels: 24 said to be in 'critical' state

A report on the state of the City of Montreal's nearly 600 bridges, tunnels and overpasses has identified 24 structures in critical need of repair.

The city executive committee member in charge of infrastructure, Richard Deschamps, insists no one is in danger.

The report concludes that most of Montreal's 589 structures are in good shape. However, 109 are mediocre, deficient or worse. More than half are over 40 years old and require regular maintenance.

The city's own engineers say the municipality needs to spend $50 million annually to carry out proper maintenance. For the coming year, it has budgeted just $27 million.

"We're headed toward $50 million, but we have to take into account our capacity to pay," Deschamps said.

Deschamps: 'Critical' structures pose no danger

Deschamps said "critical" is an engineering term, but it doesn't mean the structures are dangerous or need to be torn down.

He said it simply means they might need weight restrictions or a few repairs.

"If we had a structure that was really not safe, the City of Montreal wouldn't hesitate to close it," Deschamps said.

However, McGill professor emeritus of civil engineering, Saeed Mirza, took issue with Deschamp's explanation.

"I think the word 'critical' should raise a red flag with anyone," Mirza said. "As I recall, the de la Concorde overpass in Laval was never declared unsafe or critical before it just suddenly collapsed."