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Turcot watchdog group calls for emergency meeting with Transport Minister Sam Hamad

Montreal, May 19, 2011- With less than a month before plans must be finalized for the Turcot interchange, the Turcot Watchdog Committee has launched an emergency appeal to Quebec Transport Minister, Mr. Sam Hamad: whether this project will meet the goals of his own government and the city of Montreal – by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and congestion downtown, and optimizing city planning – now depends on him and him alone.  

After conducting a dozen meetings with various stakeholders, including four meetings with Transports Québec, and observing that, in spite of everything, the project hadn't evolved since its unveiling last November and that no mitigation plan has been put on the table, the Committee urged the Minister today to adopt a set of measures that promote the use of public transit, calling for an emergency meeting to discuss the matter.

Optimize the movement of people and goods: a political decision, concrete measures

The Turcot Watchdog Committee, which has been closely examining the issue for the past six months, has the following recommendations for the Minister:

  • implement public transit mitigation measures one year before the beginning of construction* 
  • immediately authorize investment measures for changes to public transit network*
  • either eliminate access roads to the Ville-Marie autoroute, rue Saint-Jacques and the future boulevard Pullman, or re-dedicate them to public transit only
  • reduce the number of lanes on the Ville-Marie to two lanes of traffic in each direction

"Based on our assessments, we believe that the plans proposed by Transports Québec will do nothing to solve congestion on the motorway or downtown since it doesn't offer any alternative transportation for drivers already using an overloaded network," said Pierre Gauthier, professor of urban planning. "By applying the minimum measures, which encourage the use of public transit, the government would have a much more efficient plan in terms of sustainable development and the movement of people and goods.  

The Committee deplores the fact that after two years of hearings before Quebec's environmental review board, BAPE, none of the plans put forward by Transports Québec have given any indication of a modal shift away from traffic congestion on our motorways and downtown. 

"Beyond the concrete structures, there are people. Turcot, which is located in the heart of the metropolitan area, is not a major road project but a major project for mobility and urban development. And now only Minister Hamad can carry this vision," said Coralie Deny, executive director of environmental umbrella organization, CRE-Montréal.

An integrated vision: the challenge for Transports Québec

With several major projects planned for the coming years, the Turcot Watchdog Committee invites Transports Québec to develop a consultation process ahead of time that involves community groups to ensure that road transport and collective transportation choices are considered side by side and that they are both part of the urban planning exercise. 

"The Turcot experience should serve as an example to everyone involved," concluded Florence Junca-Adenot, director of Forum Urba 2015 at the UQAM urban studies program. "The transport minister has now decided to adopt an integrated approach by initiating steps for the many upcoming projects that reflect the priorities of community groups, the city, the metropolitan area and the government of Quebec and that will one day allow Montreal to become an exemplary city in terms of sustainable planning and mobility."

* See May 11, 2011 press release at www.vigilanceturcot.org

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To consult the letters addressed to the minister, the press releases and accounts of the meetings: www.vigilanceturcot.org

For more information: Leïla Copti 514.661.6134