Bonaventure Expressway: A less complex, less costly, and just as enthralling
concept in the eyes of the OCPM

MONTREAL, March 31 /CNW Telbec/ - The Office de consultation publique de Montréal (OCPM) makes public today the report on the consultation on the transformation of the Bonaventure Expressway, at the limit of the boroughs of Sud-Ouest and Ville-Marie.

Prior to the consultation, at the request of the Ville de Montréal, the Société du Havre de Montréal (SHM) had prepared a detailed pre-project design report on the redevelopment of the Bonaventure Expressway, proposing the transformation of the expressway into an arterial urban road between Saint-Jacques and Brennan Streets, and the establishment of a living neighbourhood on land freed up by the project, as a new gateway to downtown. The report also proposed the development of an exclusive, dedicated corridor for public transportation along Dalhousie Street.

The public consultation revealed that the reconfiguration of this Montréal highway, currently playing a fundamental role in cross-shore public transit, is very important for the future of Montréal. The concept presented by the SHM offers the advantage of aiming for high development standards. However, the public consultation brought to light the fact that other options exist to achieve the SHM's objectives, in less complex versions of the design concept, at lesser cost, and resulting in a project that is just as enthralling. .

One version, involving less financial risk, drew the attention of the commission. It consists in an urban boulevard without built central blocks, making it possible to incorporate the dedicated public transit lanes into the right of way of the existing expressway, thereby rendering unnecessary the infrastructure planned for Dalhousie Street. This scenario would focus on the consolidation of neighbourhoods already being revitalized, and on the creation of a boulevard progressively opening onto the city and its landscapes, and dotted with works of art, in harmony with the historical significance of the area, which was the industrial cradle of both Québec and Canada. The commission recommends that this possibility be examined.

The real-estate aspect of the pre-project design report was questioned during the consultations. Many who spoke pointed out that there is little demand for new downtown-type projects in Montréal. There are already too many sites earmarked for development, downtown and in the Quartier international and Cité internationale. Many projects await only increased demand in order to start up. The lack of developers for the Bonaventure project did not go unnoticed. Many fear that the new blocks created will remain vacant for a long time. The level of competition is high at the moment, and will remain so for the coming decade.

As to the residential component, the attractiveness and conviviality of the new neighbourhoods were also called into question, mostly because of the sound climate and the concentration of fine particles in the central blocks, which would be above public health standards.

Many, including the commissioners, believe that the financial scenario should be reviewed. Certain costs may have been underestimated or not taken into account in evaluating the project's profitability, notably the acquisition costs for the rights of the CN and Dépotium, (storage lockers) as well as the costs of enhancing the CN viaduct and decontaminating the land to be sold by the City. People also believe that a more in-depth assessment should be made of the costs involved in digging the tunnel under the Peel basin, and of the market value of the land freed up by the project, taking into account the surplus of available lots downtown.

Lastly, in fairly recent studies by the developer, the Devimco project in Griffintown was considered a success factor for future office spaces, both for its contribution to the critical mass of residents and as a commercial destination. However, this project was considerably scaled back, without adjustments being made to the expected spin-offs.

Moreover, the transformation project for the Bonaventure Expressway is interrelated with several other planned major transportation projects that could have a marked influence on meeting needs and, more technically, on the configuration and functionality of the proposed boulevard. Those projects?the retrofit of the Champlain Bridge and Turcot Interchange, the tram-train, the tramway corridor, and the South Shore high speed rail link?could pave the way for an effective and modern public transit solution. However, the time horizons for those projects are often unclear.

The commission recommends that the City take the initiative, within the framework of the Montréal Metropolitan Community, to develop as quickly as possible a metropolitan public transportation strategy that would allow, among other things, a more in-depth implementation of the Montréal Transportation Plan.

The Office noted the attendance of some 700 citizens and organization representatives at the various public meetings. The commission received 59 briefs. The opinions expressed came from residents and organizations operating in the areas of community development, urban revitalization, heritage protection, housing, transportation, and health, as well as the business community and public institutions.

The commission would like to underscore the quality of public participation and thoroughness of the briefs submitted. It would also like to point out the quality of abundance of documentation provided by the SHM, which demonstrated its openness throughout the process, and its concern to meet requests for information.

All information available on this project may be obtained at the offices of the OCPM and on its Web site, at www.ocpm.qc.ca. For information, please call 514 872-8510.

SOURCE Office de consultation publique de Montréal

For further information: For further information: Luc Doray, (514) 872-3568, Cell: (514) 977-8365


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