Turcot Back To The Drawing Board?

Anyone following Turcot since the MTQ announcement of an new interchange in 2007 knew one simple fact – Jean Charest had to go! His government’s handling of Turcot was almost as monumentally inept, illogical, and politically suicidal as his decisions over student tuition fees. The new Parti  Quebecois government has named Daniel Breton as Environment Minister. I don’t know him personally, but have seen him at countless public demonstrations,  testifying at public consultations, and even running a light show/video event on the side of the Hydro Quebec building downtown. He would seem to be the real deal.

The article below mentions that most players in the Turcot saga would prefer not to see the CN tracks pulled over to the Falaise Saint Jacques. The Falaise is actually a city designated “Ecoterritory”.  Moving the Turcot project beside it would be an anti environmental move in the typical going backwards/dumbing down swirl of enthusiasm that seems to be at the heart of the Tremblay era in it’s willingness to destroy all green space, and so many heritage buildings,  on the Island of Montreal for the sake of real estate profits.

I have heavily criticized the MTQ over the years for their Turcot plan, but it needs to be stated that this was all under Charest who liked the project. Perhaps now we can get back to having a sensible conversation, a realistic talk in the year 2012.


Foes Of Turcot Plan Work On Alternative

by Andy Riga, The Gazette


MONTREAL – With the design of the new Turcot Interchange apparently no longer set in stone, opponents of the plan are working on a detailed alternative they say would cut costs, reduce car capacity and encourage public transit.

“It’s not too late to change the project,” said Shannon Franssen, a spokesperson for Mobilization Turcot. “In its current form, it would be disastrous not only for the neighbourhood, but also for all of Quebec.”

The coalition of community and environmental groups would scrap plans to increase car capacity to 325,000, from 290,000. It also wants public transit to be more prominent.

The group says money can be saved by eliminating plans to rebuild the Ville Marie Expressway. More savings can be had by not moving Canadian National tracks, an expensive part of the project because the land it’s moving to is unstable, inflating costs.

There is evidence the new provincial government might be willing to change the previous, Liberal, government’s $3-billion Turcot plan.

Jean-François Lisée, minister responsible for Montreal, has wondered aloud whether Quebec can revisit the plan.

Two of the plan’s most outspoken critics now have high-profile jobs — Environment Minister Daniel Breton and Thierry St-Cyr, now chief of staff to Transport Minister Sylvain Gaudreault.

On Tuesday, Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay, who accepted the plan after the previous government shot down his alternate proposal, said he would meet with city hall opposition parties to come up with suggested improvements.

Tremblay discussed Turcot with Lisée. “They agreed to take a few weeks to see how the project can be improved, considering the urgency of acting quickly to ensure the safety of Montrealers,” said Martine Painchaud, a spokeswoman for Tremblay.

Montreal wants more reserved bus lanes and changes to how the new interchange will be integrated into the neighbourhood, she said.

On Tuesday, city council bought some time by setting aside for a month the approval required before Quebec can move the CN tracks.

Some preliminary work has been done on the new Turcot, but Benoit Dorais, mayor of the Sud-Ouest borough, said changes are still possible.

“We can improve Turcot without putting the safety of people in jeopardy,” said Dorais of the opposition Vision Montréal. More emphasis must be put on public transit and the CN tracks should be left where they are, he said.

Quebec is spending tens of millions of dollars to keep the current crumbling Turcot up and running while a new one is built. The new Turcot is to be completed by 2018. Quebec had said it planned to hire a consortium to prepare the final design and oversee construction next summer.

Franssen said the Turcot’s decrepit condition is a concern. “There is a bit of a rush, but it wouldn’t take much time to make changes that would make the project acceptable — maybe another six months. The engineers involved in the project have heard all these criticisms and have looked into solutions.”

Quebec began planning the new Turcot in 2003, when it bought the former Turcot Yard from CN for $18 million.



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