Saturday, June 30, 2007

Quebec to demolish Turcot interchange

The Quebec government is going to spend $1.5 billion to remove Montreal's biggest set of overlapping, concrete roads -- the Turcot interchange. It will be replace by street level roads.

It's a lot of money. And I expect the real price will be triple as is always the case. But given the overpass collapse in Laval and the tests being done on the elevated Ville Marie Expressway, perhaps we should stick to more simple, land-based road construction in Quebec. The province doesn't do a great job at maintaining our existing infrastructure. So, let's keep new infrastructure as simple as possible.

The Gazette reports that the new construction will go as far east as Greene Ave. I guess that means part of the Ville Marie Expressway will be removed, but most of it will stay. That's too bad. I don't feel too confident driving on that road nor the other major east-west elevated, the Metropolitan Expressway.

The greening of Turcot: $1.2-billion price tag
Key interchange to be rebuilt. But where are the extra lanes for transit, critics ask as highway project unveiled

The Gazette

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Quebec will spend $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion on a vast project to replace the Turcot Interchange with a new expressway system designed to simplify and beautify one of the city's most important transportation hubs.

"This will mark a new beginning for Montreal," provincial Transport Minister Julie Boulet told a news conference yesterday.

"It will improve traffic flow and free up more commercial and residential land for development." It will also bring the crumbling 12.76-kilometre interchange and its 25 overpasses and ramps down to earth.

With the exception of two elevated ramps, the new road system will be built at ground level.

This will considerably reduce maintenance costs, Boulet said, as well as free more than 100 hectares of land, an area larger than Lafontaine Park.

The idea is to build the new interchange alongside the old one, which will be torn down only after the new one is complete.

Construction is slated to begin in 2009. Demolition of the old Turcot is to begin in 2013.

By August 2015, if all goes as scheduled, the tired Turcot, with its sweeping 20- to 30-metre-high concrete ramps, overpasses and expressways, will have vanished.

Some commercial and residential properties will be expropriated and demolished to make way for the new interchange.

Most of these buildings are located just south of the eastbound entrance to the Ville Marie Expressway, close to the current entrance to de la Verendrye Blvd.

About 20 per cent of the expropriation will be residential. Many of the property owners will be able to relocate to land made available by the new project, Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay said.

Tremblay said he fully supports the plan, saying it will serve as a new gateway into Montreal and will help revive an area that predominantly features vacant land and rundown buildings.

Montreal's chief opposition party, Vision Montreal, was not as enthusiastic, however.

There were not enough reserved lanes for buses, party leader Line Hamel noted.

"When you are completely rebuilding, you have to profit from the opportunity to improve public transit," she said.

Projet Montreal city councillor Richard Bergeron agreed. He said the Turcot project represents a missed opportunity to reduce Montreal traffic.

Noting the project will increase the interchange's road surface by 30 per cent, he said: "Where are the public transit projects? To see Mayor Tremblay congratulate himself for getting billions of dollars invested in roads from the Quebec government is truly exasperating." The Turcot is a crucial interchange not only for Montreal but for the entire province.

It is the main east-west traffic hub joining Highways 10, 15, 20 and 720. It's also a crucial portal to Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, the West Island and the South Shore.

For this reason, the project is designed to minimize traffic disruptions during its almost nine-year span, Boulet said.

During the next two years, land will be decontaminated, expropriation completed and technical studies prepared.

Because the new interchange will be built alongside the existing one, there will be no interruption to traffic during the first four years of construction, officials claim. "Only during the demolition of the old interchange do we predict some disruption to traffic," Boulet said.

The Quebec government has been planning the new Turcot project since 2003, when it paid $17.8 million for the railway yards along Highway 20, north of the Lachine Canal.

Part of the plan is to keep a corridor open for a railway link to Trudeau airport. The government also plans to build bicycle lanes and parkland.

The construction will extend west along Highway 20 to Angrignon Blvd., east along the Ville Marie Expressway to Greene Ave., north along the Decarie Expressway to the Sherbrooke St. ramp and south to the de la Verendrye exit.

New ramps and highways will be built in all these areas.

"We were looking at an interchange that was built 40 years ago and in another 10 years would reach its maturity," Boulet said in an interview.

"So we had to make the choice of repairing it or building a new one. We realized that in the long run it would cost more to repair it and maintain it than to build a new one." In the meantime, the government still must spend millions of dollars just to keep the old Turcot safe. Many areas are crumbling, with chunks of concrete falling from ramps and overpasses, revealing a ugly web of rusting steel bars.

The cost to build the interchange in 1966-67 was $24 million. The province has promised to pay the entire cost of the new project, but hopes to get infrastructure money from the federal government.

1 comment:

Neath said...

Well, not maintaining these structures does lead to death and bigger headaches and expenses down the line - Is there any reason to believe that having an interchange lower will somehow upgrade maintenance standards? I doubt it, in fact they are actually taking less maintenance into account and given the history here that is not a good thing. The sad part is that the Turcot Interchange would still be more or less like new if maintenance had been applied properly. We are spending billions to create more mistakes it seems.