Recently Quebec Transport Minister André Fortin was interviewed on television regarding the massive Turcot interchange work being carried out in western Montreal. He mentioned that work was, for the most part, on schedule. He understood that the last two years have been very hard on motorists with numerous detours and closures, and was honest when he pointed out that there is still much to be done.
It was then explained to viewers that once the project is completed there will be no additional lanes, in fact in some areas there will be fewer. This had me totally flummoxed. Have we endured this construction nightmare only to arrive back at the same place or less?
Boston undertook a massive project that lasted 20 years. The Big Dig as it came to be called was fraught with cost overruns and problems as is almost always the case with huge infrastructure updates. But at least when Boston buried its roads it increased the number of lanes from six to eight or, in some cases, ten.
Prior to the start of work in Montreal the number of cars and trucks had already exceeded the standard three-lane Turcot configuration; the city had grown, the roads had not. The concrete was in need of repair which afforded an ideal opportunity to not only replace the aging structures but at the same time add a lane or two to ease traffic. With time the number of vehicles using the interchange is only going to increase, why not be ahead of the curve and provide adequate lanes. To replace an inadequate stretch of highway with the same configuration strikes me as wasteful if not absurd.
The minister stated that the way to reduce congestion is not to accommodate more vehicles, but to improve and encourage public transit use. To believe that is pure folly, but even if an environmental approach is taken, more and more electric cars are going to be on the roads in the decades to come. They will need adequate roads to ease traffic, but it will be too late then.
So in about ten years people will still be sitting in clogged traffic on the Turcot albeit in electric cars on nice shiny new roads. This is a solution how? Isn’t the idea to ease the flow of traffic? God have mercy on Montreal drivers!