The forgotten Turcot promises… Environmentalists take MTQ to task
By: John Symon – mtltimes.ca
The Quebec Ministry of Transport (MTQ) should respect its promises regarding the $3.8 billion Turcot highway project maintains a common front of environmental groups. The MTQ made environmental and active transport promises when the Turcot project was proposed in 2010 claims the “Turcot Vert et Actif” Committee (TVAC). These promises seem to have since been forgotten.
Foremost among the forgotten promises was a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the relocated CN train tracks and Highway 20, creating a new active transportation link between NDG, the Lachine Canal, Ville Émard, and LaSalle.
TVAC believes that such a bridge would do much to improve the quality of life for inner city residents close to Highways 15, 20, and 720. As depicted on maps, the bridge would link to a path descending the St. Jacques Escarpment near Cavendish Blvd in NDG, cross over the train tracks and Highway 20, go underneath Notre Dame St., and also cross over the Lachine Canal to connect with Irwin Ave in LaSalle.
“Quality of life should not be relegated to a lower priority in [the Turcot project],” declares Coralie Deny, director of CRE-Montréal. “This project is a unique occasion to transform the sector. We cannot wait until 2020 to think of improvements; by then it will be too late and the budget will have been spent.”
Lisa Mintz of Sauvons la Falaise requested at a Turcot consultation meeting on Feb. 9 that the pedestrian bridge be reinstated into the Turcot project, but was told it was too expensive. However, when Mintz asked what the cost was, City of Montreal and MTQ officials were unable to give a number…
“I hear that the foundations of the bridge are either built or on their way, but the rest of the project is on hold due to the cost of approximately $50 million,” Montreal councillor Craig Sauvé later wrote us.
”The cyclist/pedestrian overpass was promised by Minister Hamad in 2010 within the Turcot project,” continued Sauvé. “Now that he’s President of the Treasury Board, it would be great for him to follow through. The MTQ’s….project has been largely car-focused for the benefit of a population outside of Saint-Henri and NDG …I agree with the CRE on this one.”
“The Turcot project should bring concrete responses to issues of urban integration,” says Mauricio Garzon Beltran of SHUI. “In effect, highways and train tracks constitute important barriers that can isolate neighbourhoods. More efforts are needed from the MTQ to facilitate connections between sectors and to improve green space access for the entire population.”
While the MTQ does plan to build a bike path at the bottom of the St. Jacques Escarpment, TVAC wants to ensure that this path connects properly to other cycling routes.
Environmental groups in TVAC include: le Conseil Régional de l’Environnement de Montréal (CRE-Montréal): the Green Coalition; GRAME; Héritage Laurentien; Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook; Mouvement Ceinture Verte; Piétons Québec; Sierra Club Québec; Sauvons la Falaise; Saint Henri Initiatives Urbaines (SHUI); and Vélo Québec.