Viewpoint : April 2017

Redesigning urban boundaries: the case of the Turcot Interchange pedestrian overpass

Major bypasses, highways and rail yards often represent difficult and even impossible urban boundaries to cross by foot or bike. When undertaking a large-scale project to redesign this type of infrastructure, why not seize the opportunity to correct the mistakes of the past?
This was the plan with the reconstruction of Montréal’s Turcot Interchange, currently the Québec government’s largest transportation infrastructure project. The overpass - complete with green space - initially included in the project provided a safe, attractive pedestrian and bike path between the neighbourhoods on either side of the highway corridor: the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de Grâce Borough north of the Saint-Jacques escarpment and the Ville-Émard neighbourhood in the Southwest Borough. However, the overpass is no longer part of the project.
While this is a Montréal issue, it could very well play out in other urban centers where a bridge or an expressway is being reconstructed or reconfigured. Whether or not one agrees with these projects, it is important to systematically take advantage of any major roadwork to find a way to promote the circulation of pedestrians and cyclists between neighbouring districts, boroughs and municipalities.
The repair of the Turcot and its feeder highways is costing over $4 billion. Initially, the cost of constructing the overpass was estimated at about $40 million, or 1% of the total budget. Given that in 2017, Québec’s five largest cities alone will invest over $30 million in the development of cycling infrastructures, excluding certain unusual major projects[1], the reintegration of the overpass into the Turcot Project is a very reasonable demand.
Between now and May 15, sign the petition asking Premier Philippe Couillard to maintain the pedestrian overpass promised by the Minister of Transport, Sustainable Mobility and Transport Electrification as part of the Turcot Project.

Suzanne Lareau
President and CEO

[1] Vélo Québec. Taken from Vélo Québec’s commentary as part of the 2017 Québec Pre-Budget Consultations.