Radical Reform Needed On Turcot

The government’s Turcot Plan is a disaster in waiting. Everyone who has looked closely at this project knows this is a concerted effort to devalue Montreal in as many ways as possible. The question is why? Why do they insist on a project destined for tragedy in the face of rational alternatives?

Article from the McGill Daily

The Ministère des transports du Québec (MTQ) unveiled its latest plans to renovate the crumbling Turcot interchange last week. The Turcot is a tangle of three highways – two urban expressways and the Champlain Bridge – that has been slowly rotting since it was constructed with low-grade concrete in the sixties. It first became the target of much-needed renovation plans by the province back in 2007.

The MTQ’s 2007 plan met vehement opposition from local residents – the proposals would have increased the Turcot’s capacity and demolished hundreds housing units. The new $3-billion plan will still destroy over a hundred dwellings, increase the interchange’s car capacity, and mire St. Henri in construction for years to come.Until last year, Montreal mayor Gérald Tremblay rejected the province’s plans, going so far as to join opposition parties in city hall and the mayors of the region’s other cities in demanding a better proposal from Quebec City – one that included Projet Montréal’s propositions for reducing traffic by forty per cent, no expropriations, and greater public transit. Now Tremblay has gone back on his word and thrown his weight behind the MTQ’s project, which fails to take into account local residents, the environment, or sound urban planning. When Richard Bergeron, Projet Montréal’s leader and member of the city’s executive committee for urban planning, refused to support the new project, Tremblay forced him to resign.

Promotional materials for the new plan are cloaked in “green” rhetoric and imagery, yet the plan contains no budgetary commitments to the proposed streetcar line, suburban train, park, or bicycle path, among other improvements. An exclusive bus-and-taxi lane – an attempt to facilitate public transport – does not even run straight to its downtown destination and restricts access to on- and off-ramps. The planned Quartier du Canal – a neighbourhood that would sit between the Lachine Canal and the Turcot – would be surrounded by heavy industry and a planned a bio-methane plant, which according to current laws must be 400 metres away from any housing. As Bergeron has said, when it comes to greening initiatives, this plan “is a tremendous fraud.”

The provincial government has been missing the point for three years in their attempts to compromise on Turcot renovations. Repairing the Turcot to get another 50 to 100 years of use out of it without reducing its automobile capacity and dramatically increasing public transit funding is a misappropriation of government money and a major missed opportunity to change the way the city works. Certainly, the interchange is vital to Montreal’s economy and residents of the suburbs, and thus needs to be fixed – but to maintain the status quo is not an option. Downtown Montreal needs by all means to remain accessible to residents of surrounding areas, but the means of access need to shift away from highways and toward public transit.

A solution to such unnecessary congestion and pollution can be found in Toronto’s plan to create a suburban light-rail system connecting suburban residents to the city. Other cities around the world – like Paris, Seoul, Barcelona and Vancouver – have found similarly inventive ways, like improved commuter trains, to reduce car traffic while bearing citizens’ mobility in mind.

With Montreal’s award-winning public transportation system, the improvement and extension of these services to the suburbs should more than adequately alleviate the issues of congestion and accessibility for suburban residents working in the city. Instead of pouring billions of dollars into a project that entrenches automobile use and will see people lose their homes, investment in public transportation needs to be made the first priority in balancing the need to preserve access to the city while reducing traffic in the long-term.


3 responses to “Radical Reform Needed On Turcot

  1. Interesting summary of loses in the Turcot Plan. Personally, I want to see zero housing on the site. But there is an interesting debate between people who have been struggling for a plan that reduces traffic.

    On the Equiterre site:

    . . . here the article AND the comment posted are worth reading.

    Of course, you need to read French or try the awkward route of the Google translation tool where you plug in the address given above and choose the source and target languages . .

    Turcot – un compromis à surveiller
    Publié le 10 nov. 2010
    Auteur: Hugo Séguin

    Le projet Turcot tel que présenté hier n’est certainement pas le projet auquel nous rêvions. Il est un compromis incomplet. Néanmoins, Québec a mis de l’eau dans son vin. Nous aurions préféré un projet qui s’inscrive véritablement dans le développement durable, un concept qui intègre d’autres types de moyens de transports, diminue la capacité pour les voitures et.

    ————- Comment
    Par Lapalme, le 12 novembre

    J’aime bien ton image: 3 milliards $ pour un échangeur à voitures et des dessins pour les trams. Par contre, je ne partage pas ton analyse que tu résumes par l’expression “compromis incomplet”. En fait ce qui résume le mieux l’esprit et la lettre de cette merde de Turcot nouvelle mouture c’est qu’il s,agit pour une énième fois d’une gifle infligée à Montréal par le trop puissant ministère des transports du Québec.

  2. Neith, you are welcome.

    You can go back almost two years, to October 2008. Read what the people who want a better quality of life for the city, the districts in the southwest, and for the region had to say to Quebec planners back then.

    Browse what any of the groups mobilized around the Turcot proposals wrote.

    Evidently, we are back to square one:

    Montréal, le 1er octobre 2008 – Le Regroupement économique et social du Sud-Ouest (RESO) demande à la ministre des Transports du Québec, Julie Boulet, de revoir le mandat de son ministère concernant les travaux prévus pour l’échangeur Turcot afin que celui-ci tienne compte de l’ensemble des interventions prévues sur les infrastructures de transport du Sud-Ouest de Montréal à court, moyen et long termes.

    Farther along in this communique
    . . written two years ago (still relevant):

    Le RESO appuie la demande du groupe de citoyens Mobilisation Turcot afin que le MTQ
    revoie son projet afin d’intégrer la réduction de la pollution locale et l’amélioration de la
    santé publique, la diminution de l’utilisation de l’automobile et une augmentation du
    transport collectif, le désenclavement des quartiers touchés, le maintien de l’offre de
    logements et un soutien économique particulier aux quartiers touchés par les travaux durant la période de construction.

    I regret that the economic support of the districts (South West Montreal) is a demand that nobody on the eco-enviro-engineering side here in Montreal seems to have taken up in 2010 after the MTQs $B 3 plan was unveiled.

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