The plan to tear down the Bonaventure Expressway in favour of an “urban boulevard” (with four lanes going both ways), complete with new office buildings and hotels with street-level storefronts has been on the table for few years and now looks as if it will be a reality sooner than later. However, recently added to the plan is the idea of a bus corridor to be used by the 1 400 public transit buses that cross the Champlain Bridge every day travelling between Montreal and the South Shore. The new bus corridor, which will shave only a few minutes off the current commute will start at the existing bus terminus on rue de la Cathedrale and travel down Dalhousie which will be extended to reach the Bonaventure Expressway. The Gazette has a map of the plan, along with the plan for Phase 1 of the Bonaventure project here.
One of the most costly and controversial parts of the project is the need to drill a tunnel through the elevated train tracks for Dalhousie to be extended. Experts are concerned however, that the 160 year old New City Gas Co. building will not be able to withstand the vibrations from the drilling along with the thousands of buses that will pass by it daily if the corridor is built as planned. The corridor, which will cost somewhere around $65 million dollars is being heavily criticised by members of the Comité pour le sain redéveloppement de Griffintown* who, in a press release, questioned the need for the corridor suggesting alternate routes that wouldn’t threaten heritage buildings, and ultimately be less costly:
During the roadwork period, the most logical detour for the estimated 1 400 daily buses (200 buses per hour at rush hour) would be to turn left on Wellington street and drive up Peel Street, (two wide streets with multiple lanes). Why was this option rejected? Because, we’re told, Montreal mayor Gérald Tremblay wishes to reserve Peel Street for the hypothetical and much publicized tramway line, although it isn’t budgeted for in the near future by the AMT.
And why shouldn’t the permanent route be a reserved bus lane on each of the two new four-lane urban boulevards? So buses don’t slow down car circulation, says the AMT. Yes, five traffic lights along the new section are bound to slow down traffic at rush hour. So why not simply use the reserved lane in the opposite direction at rush hour?
Luckily, as The Gazette reported, the plan will be going to public consultations through the Office de consultation publique de Montréal, however, their website as of yet says nothing of it.
*Full disclosure: The CSRG is an organisation of which I am a member.