Tramway: the CAQ authorizes the shared street but… leaves the door open to a longer tunnel

After weeks of bickering with the City of Quebec, the Legault government formalized, black on white in a decree, the choice of the shared street on René-Lévesque, while leaving the door ajar to a longer tunnel downtown. for the tram.

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If the tramway is to be installed on the surface, in the Cartier sector (between avenues De Bourlamaque and De Salaberry) over a portion of approximately 500 meters, there is only one option left on the menu: the shared street, at 20 km/h, where vehicles will coexist on the same lane with cyclists and pedestrians.

This is the scenario favored from the very beginning by the Marchand administration, which won its showdown with the government, despite the untimely exits of certain local ministers who opposed this vision. Minister Éric Caire had even criticized the City for “polluting the existence” of motorists before retracting.

A default recommendation?

The environmental decree suggests that this is, however, a default recommendation, since the ministry does not have sufficient information on the impacts of the two other variants originally proposed by the City of Quebec.

The other two scenarios, abandoned by the Project Office, allowed for at least one eastbound traffic lane or two vehicle-only traffic lanes to be maintained. However, these scenarios would have resulted in the felling of a large number of trees on René-Lévesque.

“In the case of a surface insertion in this section, considering the insufficient level of information to assess the impacts and mitigation measures of development variants 2 and 3 in the documents cited in condition 1, these two variants cannot be made”, slice the Ministry of the Environment, which therefore obliges the City to go ahead with the shared street.

Longer tunnel in the city center

The decree adopted by the Council of Ministers, however, leaves the door open to another scenario in order to avoid that of the shared street: a longer tunnel downtown to Avenue des Érables. Currently, the tramway must travel underground, over a distance of 1.8 km between Turbull Avenue in Upper Town and the Jean-Paul-L’Allier Garden in Saint-Roch.

“Regarding the construction of the section of its project located between avenue des Érables and avenue Turnbull, the City of Quebec can carry out the original scenario including an underground insertion”, can we read.

However, the cost of such an option has already dampened the enthusiasm of the Project Office. The City had to make the choice, with regret, of a “short” tunnel in the Parliament Hill sector due to budgetary constraints. The envelope for the tramway project, it should be remembered, has already gone from $3.3 billion to around $3.9 billion.

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