New bike bridge over Turcot a go
Bike bridge over Turcot – Last week brought good news for cyclists concerning the Turcot highway reconstruction project. Quebec Transport Minister André Fortin confirmed on December 1 that the Dalle-Parc bicycle and pedestrian bridge will be built from NDG to the Lachine Canal. This bridge was originally promised by former Transport Minister Sam Hamad in 2010 as part of the Turcot project, but his ministry then reneged.
“I spoke about the Dalle-Parc with Mayor Valérie Plante,” Fortin said in the National Assembly. “We are on the same wavelength about the importance of building active transport [cycling and walking] infrastructure. I have also been speaking with my colleagues from NDG [whose MNA is Kathleen Weil] and from St-Henri-St-Jacques [Dominique Anglaide] about this. It is a project that will be realized involving consultations with the two populations [NDG and the Southwest].”
Fortin did not respond, however, to specific questions from PQ MNA Sylvain Pagé (Labelle) about when this bridge will be built. The Dalle-Parc will save cyclists from having to make a 7km detour through dangerous intersections. Highways and train tracks can otherwise make impossible-to-cross barriers for cyclists and pedestrians.
“We are so pleased that Minister Fortin has come out in favour of the Dalle-Parc!” said Lisa Mintz of Sauvons la falaise. “The next step is to get the project included in the provincial budget! You know, two years ago the MTQ was saying – ‘What bridge?’ One year ago the MTQ were saying there was never any Dalle-Parc in the Turcot plans. Six months ago they were telling me that we would never get the Dalle-Parc. And Friday, the Minister of Transport said we would get the Dalle-Parc. This is incredible! “
Some 60 community groups, including Sauvons la falaise, have been calling for two years to see reinstatement of the bridge, estimated at $40 million, or about one percent of the $3.8 billion Turcot highway reconstruction project. At a rally in June, some 300 participants turned out to hear municipal councillors like Craig Sauvé, along with Pagé, and Quebec solidaire MNA Manon Massé (Sainte-Marie–Saint-Jacques) and Olympic medal winning diver Sylvie Bernier speak in favor of the Dalle-Parc.
The link would essentially connect Cavendish Blvd in NDG to Irwin Street in the Southwest, with a new bicycle bridge over Highway 20 and the CN tracks, a bike path on the ground, a tunnel under Notre Dame Street, and an existing footbridge over the Lachine Canal: the total distance involved is not quite 1km. Irwin Street leads to Angrignon Park and to Angrignon Mall.
At a Turcot project information meeting held last week in Westmount, many members of the public asked for the Dalle-Parc to be reinstated, including NDG businessman Hossein Pourshafiey. He told The Times of a similar bridge recently built in his native Teheran that has won awards and become a major tourist attraction.
Environmentalists in contact with this reporter also emphasize the Dalle-Parc’s importance as a corridor for wild animals such as rabbits and foxes, which sometimes have to move from one small park to another. In French, the word “dalle” can mean “stepping stone”.
By: John Symon – firstname.lastname@example.org