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MTL: The Metropolitan Highway to remain an elevated structure

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That came on the TVA TV network website last Friday.  Here's the link to the original (in French) article.

I translate the article, so as usual, please excuse my poor english language.

Metropolitan Highway To Remain An Elevated Highway

Matthieu Payen | Agence QMI | Published on January 18th, 2019 at 4:25 AM

Forget the idea of a tunnel or an urban boulevard, Quebec decided to rebuild the Montreal's Metropolitan Highway the same as the actual.  So a mega-work site is expected for the next decade.

After years of brainstorming on the best way to renovate the most utilized highway in the whole province, built in 1959, the government finally tooked a decision.

"It will be more modern, but it will look the same as the actual highway", said the deputy minister of Transports, Chantal Rouleau, in an interview to the Journal de Montréal.

The new highway "will not be at ground level like Bonaventure (Expressway), and will not be a tunnel", she mentionned.

So the Metropolitan will remain an elevated highway on close to 6 kilometers, between A-15 and A-25, and will keep three lanes per direction.

Major refection

The Ministry of Transports specify that it will not be a complete rebuild, but major refection works of the 59 structures that compose the highway.

This essential Montreal area's east-west roadway is used by an average of 193,000 vehicles per day.

The ministry says actually be at the study level, and not knowing when the work will start, neither the lenght in time.  Meanwhile, minister Rouleau told it would have to start very soon, as of the the actual state of the structure.

"We have to update our infrastructures, or we'll have to deal with mega congestion", she supported.

Avoiding chaos

Quebec already began discussions with the city of Montreal, and the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) to offer some alternatives to let the car drivers avoiding chaos while the works will go on.

"We must guarantee some flowing on this axle, insists Mrs. Rouleau. It must be done in reasonable delays, at a reasonable cost."

The minister shows that works, that may cost several billion dollars, would modernize the freeway.  Lighting and traffic surveillance systems will especially be updated.

The elevated part of the Metropolitan Highway already faced minor maintnance works since 2010, that will continue until the major refection.

Until 2020, the most part of those minor works to come on the highway will be done between Laurentian Autoroute and Pie-IX Boulevard.

Over that, asphalt works are already planned and budgeted until 2028, for 21 million dollars.

One of the 59 sections

Between Decarie Interchange (west) and Henri-Bourassa Boulevard (east), Metropolitan Hghway is made of 59 elevated structures.

For example, one of them, about 350 metres long, over Christophe-Colomb street, shows some concrete bursting and rust.

Not like Bonaventure Expressway

Minister Chantal Rouleau clearly showed to Journal de Montréal that they will not make a copycat of the "Bonaventure Project" that transformed Montreal entry (A-10) into an urban boulevard.  Former Bonaventure Expressway, built elevated in 1966, was demolished in 2016 by the city of Montreal and rebuilt as a large artery, bearing a park in its median.

The Metropolitan in numbers

Total lenght: 21 kilometers between highway 15 and Henri-Bourassa Boulevard.

Maximum daily usage: 208,000 vehicles between A-15 and A-25.

First section built in: 1959.

A mega-work site and many issues

The width of highway's right-of-way does not allow to build temporary structures aside, like it was the case along Turcot rebuilding.

This work site will have to be coordinated with other major works, like Louis-Hippolyte-Lafontaine Tunnel, that will run from 2020 to 2024.

The controversial Royalmount commercial project, as many studies showed, should definitely increase traffic intensity on Metropolitan Highway between the two A-15 sections.

What experts think about it

"It's a big mistake to remake it as identical.  All across the world, streets are built at ground level, and mass transit is added to put neighborhoods back to life.  It would be better to put trucks out of the city as finishing north Montreal bypassing through A-640 or A-440." - Pierre-Léo Bourbonnais, researcher at Mobilité chair of École Polytechnique de Montréal.

"Everybody dream that it would become an urban boulevard, but I can't figure out how keep as much vehicles on this axle while going ground level." - Florence Junca-Adenot, professor at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).

"Elevated highways are not the best, but in this case, it could be worse. This allow saving the north-south traffic, that is very important in that area." - Jean-Philippe Meloche, professor at Université de Montréal (UdeM).

My point of view, now.

The Metropolitan Highway had to be rebuilt since at least 15 years. On the former MTQ website, they said they have to complete A-720 east to Lafontaine Tunnel as an option for the time of this Metropolitan rebuilding, that was planned to... 2005!  Knowing that the MTQ never rebuild its stuctures ahead of time, well,... you know what I mean!

But the poorest idea is to rebuild it as identical.  Minister Rouleau said they have to upgrade, in order to avoid mega-congestion; the problem is that they're already in mega-congestion about 16 hours out of 24, daily.  Like I say since many years, if you replace a water pipe with a smaller one (or in this case, replace the pipe with one of the same size while people increase), the people, at the other end, will not automatically become less thirsty!  People increase, number of vehicles increase, and they expect the number of displacements to diminish! Very bad planning! First section of the Met was built in 1959, with three lanes per direction, and now, sixty years later, they expect to solve traffic problems with... three lanes per direction!  Hello!!! Anybody in the house???

At last provincial general election, in October, Quebec elected a new, different political party, Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), that campained on the theme of change; at this level, they don't change a bit compared to the last governments.  That looks bad for the future!

Thanks for taking the time to translate the article.  I appreciate that.  The aging condition of Metropolitan Autoroute has been a curiosity of mine for quite a while now.

I'm not surprised that it's going to remain an elevated structure to be honest.  I kind of think that is the most logical option myself.  Though, in a perfect world, I'd like to see the lanes widened to modern autoroute standards, and some kind of shoulder on the right side (even just enough for snow storage) would be an improvement that I'd like to see as well.  If I were King for a day, I'd also add an additional lane in each direction where A-15 runs along A-40 so there would be four through lanes each way.  I'd also build a new ramp from A-40 West to A-15 South that exited from the right side of the expressway, which I think was planned at one point, and explains why the westbound service road was relocated as it was a few years ago.

Anyways, thanks for sharing (and translating the article).  Just as a friendly FYI, 'refection' would normally be translated to 'repair' or 'rehabilitation' in english.

One of those things that could help is to complete both by-passes north of the Met; the A-440, between A-13 and Kirkland, and the A-640 between Pointe-Calumet and Hudson. With those done, a lot of traffic - including many semis - would bypass the Met, and give a bit of breathe.

We're now in 2021, and nothing is done yet; on one hand, the "study" part is probably not finished yet, and on the other hand, COVID-19, with all those jobs lost and almost all office workers now working from home, give some more months to think about the real best solution.

Stephane Dumas:
A-640 going down to Hudson, that would bring opposition with A-640 passing thru the Oka provincial park or Kanesatake Indian reserve. I also remember once someone who wished a pipe-dream of an eastern extension of A-640 spanning the St. Lawrence river reaching A-30 near Varennes.


--- Quote from: Stephane Dumas on January 31, 2021, 02:36:59 PM --- I also remember once someone who wished a pipe-dream of an eastern extension of A-640 spanning the St. Lawrence river reaching A-30 near Varennes.
--- End quote ---

That was not a pipedream, rather Roger Nicolet's conclusion of his 2003 report on mobility between Montréal and the South shore. The report was more or less put on a shelf following the change of government that year, but some of his conclusions were put in place throughout the following decades.

One of them was the A-30 completion between Candiac and Dorion, which was conditionnal to the A-640 connection on the East side. The A-640 bridge would have removed many movements of dangerous goods on A-40, A-15, A-20 and Notre-Dame through the island's most heavily populated areas, as A-25's tunnel is forbidden to these and most of petrochemical plants are in the eastern tip of the island, as well as in the eastern parts of south shore.

Another recommendation was a light metro line between Brossard and downtown, which is currently undergoing its test phase. Nicolet also recommended the widening of the Champlain Bridge Estacade to accommodate transit and traffic, although the ill fate of the old Champlain Bridge was unknown at the time.


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