Tramway: the Ministry of the Environment recommends the shared street

If the short tunnel option is chosen, only the shared street scenario will be feasible, according to what can be read in the environmental decree recently made public.

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The shared street on boulevard René-Lévesque, between rue Salaberry and rue Bourlamaque, consists of running the tramway in the center of the roadway with, on either side, lanes where pedestrians, cyclists and motorists would live together.

Photo: Quebec City

Concerning 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 insertioncan we read. 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 carried out.

tree felling

Variants 2 and 3 are the scenarios under which there would be only one lane available for motorists in the direction of Parliament Hill or one car lane in each direction. Both of these options would result in the felling of a higher number of trees.

According to a government source, however, it is necessary to qualify. The Department retains this scenario by default due to a lack of information.

A few trees located along René-Lévesque Boulevard.

The tram insertion option chosen by the City of Quebec will reduce the number of trees that will have to be felled along René-Lévesque Boulevard, underlines the MELCC (archives).

Photo: Radio-Canada / Eric Careau

The ministry also accepts the scenario of the long tunnel, that is to say that the underground insertion would extend to rue des Érables. This is the initial scenario that the City had to abandon due to cost. This constraint has become an opportunity redevelopment, according to what the director of the project office said during the plenary at the town hall last March.

Different points of view

If the Ministry of the Environment leans for the shared street, it clearly did not have the support of the Ministry of Transport. Two weeks ago, Minister François Bonnardel declared that the tramway should be done without the shared street. He made it a condition. She is now completely off the radar.

François Bonnardel arrives at a press conference.

François Bonnardel, Minister of Transport, May 21, 2021.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

The government has granted all the necessary authorizations, specifying that the mayor of Quebec, Bruno Marchand, will have to seek greater support for the project.

End of hostilities?

“This is excellent news”, reacted, all smiles, the mayor of Quebec. “We come to a conclusion that is obvious. It is the same as the Ministry of the Environment. »

Bruno Marchand does not know whether the ministry had made additional requests for information on the three scenarios before ruling out two. “I would be curious to know what else they would have liked to know,” he added.

The mayor of Quebec had not been informed of the position of the Ministry of the Environment until Friday morning.

It inspires me that the shared street was the right choice. »

A quote from Bruno Marchand, Mayor of Quebec

Moreover, in its decree, the ministry allows the City to return to its initial project, that of a long tunnel that would pass under the Montcalm district to rue des Érables. This possibility is completely rejected by the mayor. “No,” he said unequivocally.

Going back to square one would mean at least four months of work for the Project Office and a bill of around $350 million more.

Other terms

In all, the environmental decree contains 18 conditions. For the most part, this involves monitoring the impact of noise during the work period.

The City will also have to render accounts in the first 10 years following commissioning. The ministry is also asking the City to measure the psychosocial impact of noise, particularly in the sector of boulevard Pie-XII, along the Hydro-Québec right-of-way.

Particular attention should be paid to the work at both ends of the tunnel in the Montcalm and Saint-Roch districts. For the noise, but also for the dust that will be released into the air due to the construction site. Other conditions relate to the planting of trees and the restoration of wetlands.

The City will also have to obtain another environmental decree, in December, for the portion of the route between the Saint-Roch pole and D’Estimauville.

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