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Reconstruction of Montreal’s Turcot Interchange and its ...

Reconstruction of Montreal’s Turcot Interchange and its Impacts

The Turcot Interchange is a major highway junction in Montreal, connecting the north-south Autoroute 15 and the east-west Autoroute 20/720.  The elevated interchange accommodates about 280,000 vehicles a day.  It is located near several working-class neighbourhoods, and is next to a rail-yard as well as the Saint–Jacques Escarpment.  Hastily constructed in 1966-67 in time for

by Yosef Robinson December 5, 2011 One comment

present-day Turcot Interchange

The Turcot Interchange is a major highway junction in Montreal, connecting the north-south Autoroute 15 and the east-west Autoroute 20/720.  The elevated interchange accommodates about 280,000 vehicles a day.  It is located near several working-class neighbourhoods, and is next to a rail-yard as well as the Saint-Jacques Escarpment.  Hastily constructed in 1966-67 in time for Expo 1967, it is now disintegrating badly and is in urgent need of reconstruction and better engineering.

The Quebec Ministry of Transportation (MTQ in French) presented a plan in 2007 to reconstruct the Turcot Interchange, in a way that would minimize traffic disruptions. This project, estimated to cost $1.5 billion and to take several years to complete, would involve (among other things):

●      Putting much of the interchange on embankments to reduce maintenance costs;

●      Widening Autoroute 720;

●      Shifting Autoroute 20 northward, to the very foot of the escarpment.

The MTQ’s plan has aroused opposition from local residents and from urban planners for several reasons:

●      The embankments would increase air pollution for local residents, and would block access between neighbourhoods;

●      Over 160 residential units in the Village des Tanneries would be expropriated due to proximity to eastbound Autoroute 720;

●      The shift of Autoroute 20 to the north would imperil the escarpment’s ecological integrity;

●      There are no provisions for reduced automobile use.

An alternative and sustainable plan (costing much less than the MTQ’s plan) by a coalition of urban planners, environmentalists, and university researchers, has suggested:

●      Making room for public transit on the new interchange (i.e. reserved lanes) and investing in new transit projects, leading to a 20% reduction in automobile traffic;

●      An immediate rebuilding or renovation of parts of the existing interchange.

alternative Turcot plan 

In 2010, responding to the above complaints, the MTQ made public a new plan which has called for:

●      A linear park between the highway and the escarpment;

●      Almost no expropriations in the Village des Tanneries;

●      A reserved bus lane along Autoroute 20/720.

Do you think the MTQ’s new plan has gone far enough to meet the objections to its original proposal?

Credits: Images and documents linked to source.

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Yosef Robinson, born and raised in Montreal, holds a B.A. in Geography with a Minor in Urban Studies from Rutgers University, as well as a Master’s in City and Regional Planning from the Ohio State University. At present, he has finished studying fo...

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