Motorists who have to drive through Montreal are far from over. The Ville-Marie motorway repair site will shift up a gear this winter, leading to new obstacles by 2026, La Presse learned. Small consolation: The start of the Metropolitan Highway rebuild, further north, still looms far away on the horizon line.
Posted at 5:00 am
Maxime Bergeron investigative team, La Presse
Henri Ouellette-Vézina La Presse
In mid-September, the Ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ) began preparatory work for the two flyovers over the Ville-Marie motorway, at Saint-Laurent Boulevard and Saint-Urbain Street. In a few months, the actual work will begin, which will affect the traffic lanes located under these structures for at least three years.
“There will be obstacles, but for now we are still in the process of finalizing mobility plans in the industry,” Sarah Bensadoun, spokeswoman for the MTQ, said on Wednesday.
Mechanical systems, walls of the Viger and Ville-Marie tunnels, retaining walls, paving: the concrete structure will be built practically from scratch by 2030. Located in the heart of downtown Montreal, this project is valued at $2 billion.
According to Pierre Barrieau, an expert in traffic planning at the University of Montreal, the closure of lanes in the Ville-Marie tunnel risks “creating even more congestion in the city center via the Bonaventure axis”. “That’s to be expected, of course,” he said.
The headache will be all the greater as the construction site of the Ville-Marie motorway is not far from the Jacques-Cartier bridge, which will become a popular option for motorists during the partial closure of the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel to last until the end 2025. Visitor numbers on the bridge increased by 18% this past weekend just before work began.
Grace period for the Metropolitan?
Another major project is looming on the horizon in the heart of Montreal. The MTQ will completely rehabilitate 11.4 kilometers of the Metropolitan Autoroute’s high-rise structures, a project worth “several billions”.
The works will be divided into two phases: The eastern part, over a length of 5.2 km between Boulevard Saint-Laurent and Rue Provencher, will be rebuilt as a priority by the MTQ. This section is very close to the junction of Highway 25 that connects Métropolitaine to the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel.
On Wednesday, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante called the ongoing work on the bridge tunnel a “good practice shot” for those being carried out on the Metropolitan.
I don’t want to startle anyone, but the reality is that our infrastructure — we’ve done Turcot, we’ve done Champlain — are all happening pretty much at the same time.
Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montreal
The consortium selected to refurbish the eastern portion of the Metropolitan is due to submit its plans and specifications to the MTQ at an unspecified date in 2023. Only then will the ministry have a more precise idea of the “costs and deadlines” for the location, says spokeswoman Sarah Bensadoun.
“We will take into account the work that is currently being carried out on the La Fontaine Tunnel section, so we will consult and coordinate the work with our partners,” she says.
Despite its advanced stage of dismantling, the concrete structure “poses no traffic hazard” and does not require “immediate intervention,” stresses Ms. Bensadoun. However, it’s too early to say if this project could be delayed by a few years to give some peace of mind to motorists and truckers who are already stuck in traffic.
Once the game is over, the MTQ will completely renovate the western part of the Métropolitaine between Autoroute 520 and Saint-Laurent Boulevard. The autobahn will be rebuilt almost identically, to the chagrin of certain groups who would have preferred to turn it into an urban boulevard.
Montreal’s “competitiveness” at stake
Regardless of the exact timeline, work on the Métropolitaine will be “complex” to say the least, predicts Catherine Morency, Chair of Mobility at the Polytechnique Montréal.
It is in the busiest segments in Canada. And if we look at the structure of this network, there are not many alternative routes since the 15 and the Décarie are already very congested. So it will require very strong mitigation measures. For me it is much more serious than the bridge tunnel.
Catherine Morency, Chair of Mobility at Polytechnique Montréal
Pierre Barrieau agrees that this project will change the game. “It’s a side we’ve been scared of for years, but we know who’s coming,” he recalls. We really need to see it rebuilt after the La Fontaine bridge tunnel and if at all possible do minor work while we wait for the blue line to be built. »
“There are only a number of highway projects that can be blocked at the same time. The economic competitiveness of Montreal and Quebec depends on it,” concludes Mr. Barrieau.
With the collaboration of Philippe Teisceira-Lessard, La Presse
+ 18% On the Autoroute 20 axis, the Jacques-Cartier Bridge recorded 175,000 car passages last Saturday and Sunday, an increase of 18% compared to the average. On Monday, however, there were 83,000 passages, a number almost identical to the average, then on Tuesday 89,000, which is also what is usually observed there.
Source: The Jacques-Cartier and Champlain Bridges Inc.