Extend the REM, public consult urges

 

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As announced in December, the new Ile aux Tourtes bridge will not include a right of way for an off-island extension of the Réseau express métropolitain (REM). Over half of the participants in a public consultation told the provincial Environment ministry they want to see a REM extension made part of the environmental impact assessment process. (John Kranitz photo)

An environmental impact study of the replacement Ile aux Tourtes bridge should include an analysis of extending the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) line to Vaudreuil-Dorion, according to a majority of opinions submitted to a public environment ministry consultation released Monday. 

As currently configured, the 26-station automated electric light rail transit (LRT) system will terminate in Ste. Anne de Bellevue when it begins service in 2021. The $6B network will link Montreal, Laval, the north and south shores — but not Vaudreuil-Soulanges and its 150,000+ residents. 

The public consultation — on which factors should be taken into account in the planning and reconstruction of the Ile aux Tourtes bridge — began on Dec. 12/18 and concluded Jan. 11/19. The 16-page document is a summary of observations from participants on the factors which they feel should be considered in a future environmental impact study. 

In December, the government announced that a replacement bridge would be completed by 2030 to replace the two-kilometre span, built in the early sixties and neglected for long periods. The new bridge will be 45 metres wide (the existing bridge is 29 metres), with dedicated lanes for public transit and carpooling. 

The consultation drew 28 briefs, 17 of which specifically urged the transport ministry to include an extension of the REM to Vaudreuil-Dorion as an integral part of the reconstruction project. 

Accessibility and public safety were significant concerns of most intervenors. Ten comments focussed on traffic congestion on the bridge and its approaches before, during and after construction. Recommendations including closing some on-ramps and exits to mitigate the risk of accidents and to restore fluidity, both in the planning stage and during construction. Others wanted a speed limit reduction, photo radar, reflective lane markers and the quick removal of snow accumulation. One brief suggested diverting all truck traffic to Highway 30 unless it is headed to the West Island.

Environmental concerns were well represented, with a number of briefs urging the addition of dedicated bicycle/pedestrian lanes and the development of policies to preserve prehistoric sites and natural habitats of Ile aux Tourtes and adjacent islands and shorelines. 

Noise and vibration from the roughly 83,000 vehicles a day — 10,000 of them trucks — were also raised as concerns. A number of contributors wanted the new span’s design and construction to reflect best practices worldwide.

Consultation participants raised concerns about the ongoing lack of transparency on the part of the transport ministry when it comes to the existing bridge and how traffic will be rerouted during construction of its replacement. Many cited a lack of transparency while the existing bridge underwent repairs and expressed concern at the foggy timeline for its replacement.

Article 31.3 of the Environmental Quality Act requires that after having received a directive from the environment minister, a project’s initiator — in this case the Ministère du Transport — is required to publish a notice announcing the start of an environmental impact evaluation, the first step in drafting an environmental impact assessment of the bridge replacement project 

Under the law, any person, group or municipality has the right to suggest what factors should be explored in the process of determining the project’s environmental impact. Once the consultation period ends, the environment ministry shares the results with the project’s initiator and posts factors it considers relevant on the Registre des évaluations environnementales page. 

Next step is an impact study to detail modifications to be made during the planning process and to address issues raised in the course of this evaluation process. No hard dates have been set for the start of construction or completion. The transport ministry hasn’t indicated whether the existing span will be demolished. 

Documentation and citations: 

Les observations sur les enjeux que l’étude d’impact devrait aborder:

Reconstruction du pont de l’île-aux-Tourtes entre Vaudreuil-Dorion et Senneville par le ministère des Transports

Consultation publique

réalisée par le ministère de l’Environnement

et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques

3211-05-469 31 janvier 2019

Nom du projet :

Reconstruction du pont de l’Île-aux-Tourtes entre Vaudreuil-Dorion et Senneville

Initiateur :

Ministère des Transports du Québec

Document :

PR2.3 – MELCC. Observations et enjeux soulevés par le public, janvier 2019, 16 pages.

Date du dépôt du document :

2019-02-04

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