A tramway line for Lachine

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The announcement came as a surprise. In response to a request made by the provincial government regarding the transfer of funds that the federal government had made to Montreal, the city managed to strike a deal by which it will hand over to Quebec City 800 million dollars which the provincial capital wants to use for its projected tramway network whose cost is 3.3 billion dollars. In exchange, Montreal would get provincial support to build a tramway line linking Lachine with downtown.

A projected line in Lachine as proposed in 2014 by Urban Planning graduate student Michael Seth Wexler

“It’s a winning deal for Quebec City but also for Montreal,” Mayor Valerie Plante said during a press conference held this Wednesday which was also attended by Quebec Transport Minister Chantal Rouleau and Treasury Board President Christian Dube.  Mayor Plante sees this tramway line as the western section of its proposed Pink Line, a highlight of her electoral platform, but which so far has failed to gain much support from the provincial government.

Of course, the Quebec City Mayor, Regis Labeaume, was pleased with the announcement as well: “I salute Valerie Plante’sspectacular negotiating skills,” Labeaume said and described the deal as “a step in the right direction.” Dube for his part remarked that the Montreal agreement with the province will also result in an improvement in the metro system, including the Blue Line connection to the light train (REM) currently under construction and the installation of protective barriers in some stations of the Orange Line to prevent suicides. Also enthusiastic with the announcement was the head of the STM, Phillippe Schnobb: “We’re talking about projects that now are funded. Before today, these projects were just in the air,” he said. The agreement also counted with the support of the federal government, François-Philippe Champagne, Infrastructure Minister in a communique indicated his gratitude to the Montreal Mayor and the Quebec Treasure Board Minister “for their efforts in reaching a solution” to the question of the transfer of funds.

Since the announcement is still very fresh, there are no many details about the next steps and when Lachine commuters will be able to ride the new tramways. There have been plans in the past, and probably some of them would be revived now that the funds will be available. In 2014, Michael Seth Wexler an urban planning graduate student at McGill University has come up with some ideas regarding a tramway line coming from downtown with a connection to the Du Canal train station, and then running on Notre Dame and turning north at 32th Avenue. He had actually thought of such tramway as a connection to the Trudeau Airport, but since the REM will fulfil that purpose, a line ending in Lachine seems now more appropriate, and that is what the city has also projected.  Very likely, the Lachine tramway may become the western portion of the projected tramway line on the eastern part of Notre Dame St., an idea that has already been approved by the provincial government.

The irony, particularly for older residents in Lachine, is that once the new tramway is built and running, for them, it would be like a time journey: the last streetcar connecting the city centreto Lachine ran in November 1954.

 

By: Sergio Martinez – [email protected]

Related articles:

Montreal Public transit fares going up

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