Quebec’s independent environmental agency recommended Transport Quebec revise its $1.5 billion Turcot Interchange project.
“Now the ball is in the government’s court,” said said Denis Levesque, spokesperson for Mobilization Turcot, a community activist group. “We don’t know if they’ll change their plan. But if they don’t, there will be a huge political price to pay.”
The Bureau d’audience publiques sur l’environment released a report last week after conducting a study and holding public hearings on possible outcomes of Transport Quebec’s plan, which involves transforming the concrete web of overpasses into a ground-level interchange.
Residents and activists who have been protesting the government’s plan said the BAPE report is a victory8212; but only a very small one. “Generally, we’re pleased,” Levesque said. “But it’s kind of wishy-washy.”
While Levesque said he and his group were pleased with some recommendations, he said the BAPE was too soft on some issues, such as reducing car traffic and increasing public transportation on the highway.
On the other hand Levesque said, recommendations that call on Transport Quebec to find ways to renovate the interchange without throwing 166 families out of their homes were met with joy.
“We’re also happy the board asked them to redesign the project in order to avoid building the 15 on an embankment,” he said, noting the original plans would have further segregated communities in an already isolated area.
It has been estimated that 280,000 cars travel on the Turcot each day, using it to connect between the Autoroute Ville-Marie (720), the Decarie Expressway (15) and the Highway 20.
Minister of Transport Julie Boulet said she would study the report, and that several recommendations are already being considered.
The government is under no legal obligation to follow the agency’s recommendations. “I think it would be a very good idea if they took more time,” Levesque said. “Take your time, make improvements and find ways to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions on our highways. Remember, when the bulldozers are gone, we’re going to be stuck with the new roads for half a century.”