Phase IV of the Samuel-De Champlain promenade | The CAQ ready to reduce a highway

(Quebec) Ten years ago, the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) campaigned against the addition of a reserved lane on a highway in the capital, believing that it would harm motorists. Today, François Legault’s party says it is in favor of reducing a Quebec highway to “give back the river to the citizens”.

The transformation of the Dufferin-Montmorency highway into an urban boulevard is essential to the success of phase IV of the Samuel-De Champlain promenade, insisted Wednesday the minister responsible for the National Capital. Jonatan Julien has never been so clear in his intention to reduce this highway located to the east of the capital.

“An urban boulevard is sine qua non,” said Mr. Julien at a press conference. “If we’re not thinking about that, let’s stop working on it, friends. For me, that’s a given. »

The minister and the mayor of Quebec participated Wednesday in the unveiling of the three winning concepts following an international ideas competition. The firms had to imagine the requalification of a strip of land taken between the river and the highway over 8.6 kilometers, from Beauport Bay to Chute-Montmorency Park.

This project, called phase IV of the Samuel-De Champlain promenade, comes on the heels of the first three phases, which were a huge success. But these were carried out in the west of the capital.

Phase IV is to be done to the east, where an underutilized six-lane highway blocks access to the river. Dufferin-Montmorency was built in 1978 on the Beauport flats, a natural environment popular with birds and fish that Canada then considered “a particularly rare biotope in all the ecosystems of our planet”. PQ Minister Marcel Léger called it “the stupidity of the century”.

The project awarded by the ideas competition, that of the Montreal firms Atelier L’Abri, Écoterritoire, Ghost and Le Picbois, provides for the removal of two of the six lanes of the highway. Removing some of the lanes dedicated to cars would in fact give more space to citizens for the construction of a multifunctional path or even to restore the biodiversity of the sector.

“I use it quite regularly and in our opinion there is excess capacity,” Jonatan Julien said of the highway. So we will have to find the balance. We want active mobility, but not to the detriment of other mobility. I think the boulevard lends itself to this transformation. »

The motorway has a capacity of at least 90,000 vehicles per day. But according to the most recent data, the sections of the highway in front of the Beauport flats see 30,000 vehicles pass per day in the busiest sectors, and barely 18,000 in places.

Minister Julien indicated that the Ministry of Transport should analyze what was a realistic scenario. “I see the support from the community,” he said. My Prime Minister and the Minister of Transport are behind the project with me. »

A vague timeline

The government remains vague about the timeline. The National Capital Commission, which is leading the project, will have to sit down “with the various partners”, including the Ministry of Transport. Five million dollars were granted to the last PQI to perfect the conceptualization.

The mayor of Quebec said he would like phase IV to be done as quickly as possible, but admits that it is a project with a high level of complexity. “I have the impression that there is a real desire for the east of the city,” he said, adding that according to him the CAQ is sincere in its desire to move forward.

Jonatan Julien moderated public expectations by recalling that the first three phases, which made it possible to develop the banks to the west of the city, took 20 years to be completed. “I would like it to go faster,” he still conceded.

The need to transform the highway into an urban boulevard and to redevelop the banks in this sector arouses unanimity in the Quebec City Council.

The Chute-Montmorency-Seigneurial district councilor, Stevens Mélançon, was present at the press conference on Wednesday. Mr. Mélançon’s party, Équipe priority Québec, never misses an opportunity to accuse Mayor Marchand of waging a supposed “car war”. But even he urges the CAQ to transform the sector and reduce the highway.

“If I were at the CAQ, I would definitely put this project at the top of the pile for the Capitale-Nationale,” suggests Mr. Mélançon. Especially since we know that they are experiencing certain difficulties at the moment. »


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