Turcot Interchange – Back in 2010, as part of the Turcot Interchange project, Transport Quebec announced it would include an overpass over the reconfigured Highway 20 and CN train tracks. It was supposed to connect the St. Jacques escarpment to the Lachine canal – and it was supposed to be a bridge exclusively for pedestrians and cyclists. But now it is not.
Part of the Turcot plans up until 2012, and on the official maps, it has since disappeared – much to the chagrin of those living in NDG, Verdun and the South-West Borough, as well as several citizen groups who are lobbying to get the Transport Ministry to reinstate the project. But Transport Quebec already said last April they would not reverse their decision, and that the project was pulled from the Turcot because it was too expensive.
Sauvons la Falaise, one of the groups part of a coalition lobbying the ministry, believes the overpass can still move ahead with ‘a more conservative budget’. And in a CTV report last April, City councilor Craig Sauvé said that ‘eliminating the pedestrian/bicycle path was not the best way to cut costs given the overall scope of the project’ and that ‘People are feeling a little upset it’s taken out. If we look in the context of Turcot, it’s a $3.8 billion project and it’s an immense project. This overpass would not be one percent of that. It would be a small amount to put forward that is giving to people locally’.
Other groups lobbying the government behind the proposal include; Vélo Québec, Piétons Québec and the Green Coalition.
The proposed overpass was also supposed to add much needed green space – as it would be covered in grass and trees. And not only would it have improved connections between the boroughs, but also access to the downtown area and the new MUHC Hospital.
There are many saying the whole idea of the overpass was simply to quiet the residents who were concerned about the construction noise, pollution and all the other challenges that would come with the Turcot project – and that there never was any real intention of moving forward with it. A petition signed by close to 10,000 people is being presented to the National Assembly.
A spokesperson for the Transport Minister said ‘the idea of the bridge is not out of the question, but it won’t be a part of the current Turcot project – it could be part of a separate project once the interchange is finished’.
But that is a lot of ‘could be’s’.
The new Turcot Interchange is scheduled to be ready by the end 2020 and so far the project is on time and on budget, something rarely heard in this city. The present interchange handles approximately 300,000 vehicles per day and was not built for such a high volume of traffic. Hopefully the new configuration will help to ease traffic congestion – and some of the anxiety drivers have been facing for years now due to the project’s construction and all the other work being done in and around the city of Montreal.
There have been many major infrastructure projects in the past with opportunities to improve upon other important issues at the time, but unfortunately those making the decisions did not look to the future or chose not to address them in their plans – only later having to do so at a much higher cost or finding it impossible with the structures or configurations already in place.
Why then has the pedestrian and cyclist overpass been removed from the Turcot Interchange project? It makes smart sense in so many ways, including environmentally – and would cost a fraction of what it did to light up the Jacques Cartier bridge.
They say sometimes dreams do come true… with a little help from those who can make them happen.