“I feel bad for the MTQ”

In the midst of the blogosphere-led fury over the Ministère des transports du Québec’s plan to rebuild the Turcot interchange (see Jacob Larsen’s lively post excoriating the MTQ’s attempt at “greenwashing” the project), Urbanphoto’s Sam Imberman calls for a breather:

So, let me get this out of the way first-thing: there is currently an interchange here, and for the time being, there isn’t a way around that fact. And furthermore: if the Turcot were annihilated tomorrow, we would not necessarily be better off.

See, it’s not in question that in some ways, interchanges are Bad Things. They’re noisy, polluting, and ugly. They interrupt the Urban Fabric, which as we all know is sacrosanct. And this interchange, in particular, is a Really Bad Thing: it’s crumbling, it’s on land which could be put to much better use, it’s unsafe, it’s hard to maintain, it “enabled the entire West Island,” et cetera. I agree with all of this.

But now, for better or worse, the West Island exists, and these people basically have to get to work by car. We could, of course, ramp up train service, but that means investing heavily in rails, signals, and rolling stock, and commiting a lot more to the higher operating costs involved in running more trains. Then, we have to build up park-and-ride service, or pay for more buses on suburban arterials (or jitney service down winding West Island roads). It’s expensive, and worse, it’s institutionally really complicated, involving the AMT, the STM, Transports Québec, and the CN Railroad, among others. And we still haven’t fixed the crumbling interchange.

For the time being, then, let’s please accept that the Turcot will continue to exist. And if we’re going to rebuild an interchange, we ought to be rebuilding it right. That means building with sensitivity to the neighbourhoods nearby, but it also means building to the highest roadway standards possible for the greatest common good possible, all while making reasonable compromises. And it also means that unfortunately, the neighbours will have to accept some discomfort while the thing is rebuilt.

So I’ll say it again: I feel bad for Transports Québec. When they add in nonsensical bike paths, and carpool-and-bus lanes that link into nothing, and they present with words like “green” and “carbon neutral,” it doesn’t sound like malice to me; it doesn’t even sound like an arrogant technocracy. It sounds like desperation. If there’s something Transports Québec should work on, maybe it’s their marketing.

Read the full post here.

Photo by Gabor Szilasi, via Walking Turcot Yards

39 comments

  1. That’s the most reasonable commentary about the situation I have heard in a while.

  2. Quand on dit «on n’a pas le choix», ça veut dire qu’on n’a pas vraiment examiné les alternatives sérieusement.

    Parce qu’il y a des alternatives.

    Tous les gens qui s’en vont tout seul en ville, dans leur auto? Paf! Moins de place pour eux; grâce à une voie réservée aux autobus et aux autos avec 2 occupants. L’idée est de punir les gens qui ont fait le mauvais choix d’aller vivre en banlieue; la ville en a assez de payer pour la banlieue sans rien recevoir en retour que de la pollution. Le West-Island n’est pas le seul à blâmer, Laval et la rive-sud portent aussi le blâme.

    Les camions? Si ils vont de Toronto à Halifax, ils n’ont pas d’affaire à passer par l’autoroute. Qu’on mette la remorque sur le train, et le tour est joué: la Suisse ne voulait pas de camions qui vont d’Italie en Allemagne, alors ils les forcent à prendre le train. Quoi? Le chemin de fer n’offre pas un service assez rapide? Et bien, messieurs les expéditeurs, apprennez à commander vos marchandises à l’avance. Si vous voulez déplacer votre entrepôt sur les routes, ne comptez pas sur les contribuables pour en subir les consequences: payez!

    Le «juste à temps» n’a pas sa place (en fait, pour décourager le «juste à temps», la police devrait pouvoir immobiliser pour des périodes de temps arbitraire des camions choisis au hasard, de façon à rendre totalement imprévisible le temps de transit des marchandises, afin de les désynchroniser et les forcer à abandonner cette pratique ruineuse.

  3. Samir la ville paie quoi au banlieusards?

    T’est vraiment ridicule dans tes commentaires, si tes solutions étaient aussi facile que tu le prétends ça aurait déjà été fait.

    Les citoyens n’aiment pas se compliquer la vie, les entreprises n’aiment pas jeter leur argent par la fenêtre.

    Tu n’est pas raisonnable.

  4. Oh et en passant, le JIT n’est pratiquement plus utilisé dans les grandes entreprises, c’est un système très coûteux pour pas grand chose… bref tu devrais suivre un cours d’introduction en gestion des opérations de la production pour comprendre mon affirmation et arrêter de projeter ton ignorance.

  5. The idea that people move out of the city, where there are large demands for public services and thus higher taxes, towards suburbs where there is less demand for public services and therefore lower taxes, is a pretty basic concept. Questions of “fairness” come into play, but that’s a different issue.

    It gets complicated when suburban residents, the ones that escaped the higher tax burdens in the first place, demand public infrastructure to make their trips from their tax haven bungalows to their job in the center as peaceful and stress-free as possible.

    Today we realize more and more that this arrangement, based on routine automobile travel of large amounts of people every day, is costly in ways we didn’t anticipate (or chose to ignore) – energy independence, oil depletion, climate change, trade balances, pollution, social stratification, the tax issues I mentioned, obesity of people who drive all the time, social stratification / anomie, land use issues. The list goes on and on.

    So the idea that we should just continue as we have been doing, especially on Earth Day, especially when a recent peak in gasoline prices was only interrupted by a financial crisis, and especially when reports come out that Canada is nowhere near obtaining its Kyoto protocol commitments, strikes one as wilful ignorance.

    The idea that because a better solution is complex, or “really complicated” it shouldn’t be done, strikes at the very heart of the whole “civilisation” project. Computers? Too complicated to design, let’s go back to throwing sticks. This is toxic thinking.

    The whole article is coated in a sheen of “reasonable” but the compromises asked amount to just laying down for the “Poor MTQ”. One wonders if the author himself is considering a future career with the MTQ; he has already adopted their group-think.

  6. Honestly I read the other post a few days about the ‘greenwashing’ and had very similar thoughts to what’s posted in this article.

    The reality is there will be a rebuilt highway within the next 10 years. lets all come to agree that for gods sake if a 5 year old child drew up the plans it would be better than what is currently in place.

    Abandoned polluted rail yard->cleaned up re- purposed (check)
    Crumbling spiderwebbed highway->new, soon to crumble highway (check)

    that alone makes it worthwhile to me. hell if they’re throwing in a bike path, dedicated transit lanes, that’s pretty awesome!

    If you live under or beside the turcot and didn’t anticipate EVER being inconvenienced (read: evicted) because of construction then you’re DREAMING. you’re worried about noise? you used to live beside a RAIL YARD!

    perspective people. i whole hardly agree that we need to do due diligence and make improvements to the plan (accommodate reasonable interests) but lets get this thing BUILT sooner than later please.

    to the people that say ‘lets reduce the # of lanes or capacity… you’re kidding right? to the people that bemoan the ‘greening’ you will all perpetually be unhappy with the green efforts that are put forth by the mtq, you’re only viable option is no-highway, electric tram and a giant park.

    I didn’t even bring up the fact that the whole area will see new growth/expansion once this begins.

  7. Newurbanshapes ta logique va frapper un mur assez rapidement.

    Les banlieues ne profitent pas des revenues fonciers des grandes tours à bureaux, des institutions financés et payés par toute la province. La ville de Montréal profite d’une assiette fiscale beaucoup plus large puisque ses terrains sont beaucoup plus chers, et aussi et surtout parcequ’elle est le centre d’une agglomération, et pour avoir un centre il faut une périphérie. Si la ville décide de jeter son argent sur des services inutiles à gauche et à droite, qu’elle à des conventions collectives ultra chères et blindés, et qu’elle à fait des mauvais choix dans le passé qui viennent plomber son service de dette, je ne vois pas en quoi les banlieues doivent être tenus comme responsables et donc payer la note.

    Quand Québec décide d’agrandir le Palais des Congrès (juste un petit exemple), c’est la ville centre qui en profite (revenue foncier, commerces, hôtels,…), mais pourtant c’est payé par tous les contribuables de la province, et surtout par les plus riches (as-tu déjà regardé les revenus par ménage de la ville centre comparativement aux banlieues?).

    Pour revenir au sujet, c’est le MTQ qui va dépenser cet argent, les autoroutes sont de juridictions provinciales et la Ville de Montréal n’as vraiment pas grand chose à payer, et donc à dire.

  8. Disappointed to see the pro-autoroute forces are still so strong, but I suppose that’s to be expected. Apparently even the idea of no longer even having a North American automobile industry in a few years is not dissuasive! So much for Canadian economic nationalism.

    These are all opinions : “inutiles”, “ultra chères et blindés” “mauvais”. Some people think the state, and especially the local state has a role to play in the economy & labour market policy.

    “As-tu déjà regardé les revenus par ménage de la ville centre comparativement aux banlieues?”

    Yes, the Ville centre has been gentrifying and there are lots of luxury buildings around, but there are also lots of homeless people, and people living in working-poor squalor that I see every day.

    Surburbanites head out to lower-tax jurisdictions where these problems don’t occur as much and don’t need to be paid for, but they still exist and are worsened as a result. That the city should make dodgy decisions here and there to balance its books shouldn’t be surprising given the pressures created by the fiscal whirlpool the suburbs create and exacerbate.

    Suburbanites still benefit from a centre-ville that is dynamic and prosperous (have to pay off those mortgages and car loans) and not gang-ridden. LA learned this the hard way in ’92.

    As I recall, since Loi 22 went through, the suburbs in the Agglomeration aren’t even directly paying the city for a number of services. Instead, the whole province now has to pay for Montréal. So now Québec is paying for Montréal AND the West Island.

    And if you lived in 1909, would you have wanted the state to have invested in a 50-year program for horse droppings removal & infrastructure? We’d probably hear the same litany of justifications saying how horses are here to stay, don’t blame the Horse Commissioner, etc.

  9. One of the most annoying features of the spanking-new expressways that inundated Montreal in the sixties was that some had linear fluorescent tube lighting built into the horizontal concrete side rails of the roadways.

    When new, the linear light effect was clearly visible from atop the Mountain and was considered quite avant garde.

    These continous horizontal lights were about eye level with a driver’s eyes and very distracting, especially if one or more tubes were burnt out as you flashed along at the usual Montreal taxi operating speed of 70 mph.

    The tubes were behind plate glass, the whole apparatus remained clean until the first snowfall when along came the plows and covered up the lights, a nice effect for a minute or two, looming thru the snow, or the plow wave immediately smashed the glass and tubes with gravel put down by sand trucks.

    With the exterior glass damaged, water, salt penetration and short circuits caused more lights to be out than on, so pole-mounted lumieres were later installed.

    The cavities where the horizontal fluorescents resided were filled with concrete, a few shattered lamps and their glass covers remained in the walls for years as mute reminders.

  10. Samir, tes comparaisons sont boiteuses… les subventions pour des immeubles au centre-ville (fréquentés par des gens de la ville comme de la banlieue) sont bien minimes à comparer aux milliards qui seront investis dans des autoroutes urbaines. Québec subventionne davantage l’étalement urbain que les immeubles du centre-ville.

  11. (Oui, c’était très beau les lampes intégrées dans les balustrades de l’échangeur Turcot).

    * * *

    J’étais en auto y’a quelques mois avec le patron, qui se lamentait d’avoir à payer des taxes à Montréal (il habite à Beauconsfield) alors qu’il n’y allait jamais (ironiquement, celà dit alors que nous roulions sur le boulevard Crémazie, alors que nous revenions d’un de nos nombreux clients à Montréal).

    Après lui avoir fait remarqué que nous étions présentement à Montréal (oups!), je lui ai demandé combien sa maison vaudrait si Montréal n’existait pas et que Beauconsfield était toute seule dans le bois.

    Je n’ai plus jamais entendu chiâler à propos des «taxes payées à Montréal» (oui, parce que les défusions ont introduit le charmant concept de taxation sans représentation)…

    Les banlieusards n’ont pas vraiment une conscience en profondeur de ce qu’est la société, car elles évacuent les problèmes (combien y’a t’il de HLMs à Beauconsfield? Et qui se souvient du temps d’avant la Communauté Urbaine où la police de Mont-Royal expulsait les gens qui s’y aventuraient avec un vieux bazou???)…

    Et sans banlieusards, il n’y aurait pas eu besoin d’échangeur Turcot au départ, des centaines de maison n’auraient pas été démolies pour les autoroutes Décarie et Ville-Marie, et le centre-ville n’aurait pas l’air d’une zone bombardée avec tous ces stationnements.

    Oui, la banlieue est la source de tous les malheurs de la société!!!

  12. Kudos to Jacob for the great work he’s doing in bringing these issues into a more public forum where they can be debated. Congratulations also to everyone at Spacing for the well deserved recognition.

    I learn something new every time and am always impressed at how much knowledge people out there possess. I hope some of you will consider taking up the challenge of putting together a transit camp or something similar: http://groups.google.ca/group/mobilisation-turcot-montreal/web/transit-camp-unconference-examples. Montreal is at a turning point: We have the potential to build something visionary in terms of transportation infrastructure… although I have a feeling that the leadership for coming up with ideas and solutions will more likely come from people like you.

  13. “L’idée est de punir les gens qui ont fait le mauvais choix d’aller vivre en banlieue”

    Aller vivre en banlieue n’est pas un mauvais choix en soi. Si demain matin on mettait toutes les banlieues en quarantaine et qu’on obligeait tout le monde à revenir dans les 4-5 arrondissements qui forment le “centre”, je crois que Montréal ne serait pas une ville très plaisante.

    Le mauvais choix, c’est d’avoir tout construit au Québec depuis 1950 dans l’optique que chaque humain de 16 ans et plus va obligatoirement chauffer son char (tout seul).

    Le mauvais choix, c’est d’avoir démoli la ville à coup d’autoroute décarie, de boulevard métropolitain, d’autoroute ville-marie, d’autoroute bonneaventure et d’échangeur Turcot.

    Le mauvais choix c’est d’avoir démoli des immeubles (logements, bureaux, usines) et de les avoir remplacé par des parkings de surface miteux.

    Le mauvais choix, c’est d’avoir élargi les boulevards (les “artères”) pour “soulager” la congestion, histoire de pousser un maximum de chars sous les fenêtres des citadins.

    Le mauvais choix était de gaspiller certaines de nos rares et précieuses stations de métro en leur donnant pignon sur rue sur 8 voies de traffic (voir station Namur, de la Savane, Crémazie) pour assurer qu’aucun piéton sain d’esprit aie envie d’être là si il a le choix.

    Note que tous ces “mauvais choix” n’ont pas été fait par les banlieusards, mais par la Ville, bien avant que les banlieues telle qu’ont les connait aujourd’hui explosent.

    Alors le citoyen qui décide d’aller dans son cul-de-sac en banlieue est-il à blâmer? Les véritables quartiers urbains de qualité (usage mixte, rues piétonnières, services de proximité de qualité accesibles à pied, métro à proximité (ou service équivalent), proximité d’un parc ou square (pour compenser la cour arrière plus petite, ou inexistente), architecture de 3-4 étages, etc…) se comptent sur le doigt d’une main à Montréal.

    C’est sûr que si la “Ville” offre une qualité de vie urbaine médiocre, les gens vont la fuir… et empirer par le fait même la qualité de vie de ceux qui restent en ville, en passant sous leur fenêtre matin et soir avec leur char.

  14. “la ville paie quoi au banlieusards?”

    La “Ville” paie en tolérant de s’auto détruire pour accomoder le flot de banlieusards qui viennent et partent tous les jours tout seul dans leur char.

    La “Ville” paie en démolissant des trucs comme des logements, des commerces, des bureaux et des usines (qui rapportent des revenus de taxe, des emplois et des services pour ses citadins) pour les remplacer par des autoroutes, des “boulevards”, des échangeurs et des parkings.

    La “Ville” paie le prix en pollution, bruit et poussière.

    La “Ville” paie en accidents de la route qui impliquent ses citoyens (souvent piétons ou cyclistes) contre la tonne d’acier et de verre qui accompagne le banlieusard.

  15. Matt:

    “to the people that say ‘lets reduce the # of lanes or capacity… you’re kidding right? ”

    And then what happens when those will be filled to capacity (probably within a few years)?

    If you build it, they will come…

  16. Xavier, tu perpétues encore des mythes urbains.

    Dommage que d’autres contributeurs sur ce blogue n’éprouvent pas de remords de conscience pour te corriger puisque tes faussetés vont dans le même sens que leur agenda anti-automobile.

    Décarie et la métropolitaine ont étés construits dans des champs, littéralement, il n’y avait peu ou pas grand chose, en tout cas pas assez pour briser quelque tissue urbain que ce soit. Le pire c’est que ça été déjà discuté et documenté sur ce blogue.

    Je t’accordes que la ville-marie par contre à dérangé les quartiers existants, mais les bénéfices que la ville en a tiré excède de beaucoup les inconvénients. Regarde Boston avec son Big Dig, qui essai d’imiter notre autoroute souterraine, ils ont faits explosés les budgets maintes et maintes reprises, le dernier chiffre est d’au délà des 20 milliards US pour le projet!

    À côté de ça le petit 1.5 milliards canadien pour de la rénovation sans ajout tangible de capacité de Turcot n’est que de la petite bière.

    Finalement, le bruit, poussière et accidents de la route causés par les vilains banlieusards qui sont les seuls à posséder des autos, bien sûr, sont pris en charge par le système de santé québecois. Je ne savais pas que la ville de montréal finançait notre système de santé… ou payer un sous pour les 2 méga hôpitaux qui vont se construire sur son territoire pour la jolie somme de 3.6 milliards… oui des petits projets insignifiants.

  17. MB,

    hehe, you’re very right. i guess what i should say is that if the capacity increase is 20% and the turcot was built in the 50′s that’s a 4% increase in traffic per decade. i think 20% is a marginal increase in volume.

    don’t misunderstand me. i would LOVE to see a truly visionary solution. i’m here reading options and opinions to understand what that solution could and should be. i dont want people to lose their homes for no-good-reason. all i’m suggesting is that “do nothing” is not an option and the plan as it stands is not the end of the world, as some people make it out to be.

  18. Xavier,

    You raise excellent points about the impact of certain choices which have been made. But I think that you are mistaken about characterizing Montreal’s urban neighbourhoods as offering “une qualité de vie urbaine médiocre”. There certainly is room for improvement, but Montreal’s core-neigbourhoods (the ones developed pre-1960′s) do have an excellent “human” scale and good mixed-use development. I am familiar with cities all around the world, and I can assure you that we are in fact quite fortunate: our bad-decisions were made relatively early and we had a good scale in place before we tore it up. I do think that the MTQ should take more note of what the rest of the world has learned in the intervening decades though – why do we need to repeat things which others now recognize were awful mistakes?

    Concerning the livability of Montreal, the core neighbourhoods are actually gaining in population quite rapidly these last few years. And it is the Quebecois de souche who are moving out to the suburbs now!

  19. Le «mauvais choix», c’est d’avoir construit les routes qui ont permis aux autos d’y circuler en grande quantité, et qui ont ainsi rendu la banlieue possible.

    Le «mauvais choix», c’est l’automobilisation du prolétariat; les prolétaires qui travaillent dans une usine ou dans un bureau à heures fixes n’ont aucunement affaire à avoir une automobile. Leur condition impose qu’ils prennent le transport en commun.

    * * *

    Si les banlieues étaient repliées sur Montréal, Montréal serait plus dense, et ça serait une ville infiniment plus intéressante, sûrement aussi intéressante que Paris ou New-York ou Londres!!!

    La ville de Paris intra-muros contient la moitié (½) de la population du Québec dans un territoire qui couvre la surface occupée par Verdun, LaSalle, Montréal-Ouest, Hampstead et Notre-Dame de Grâce.

    L’agglomération parisienne, qui contient deux fois et demie (2½) la population du Québec, occupe à peu près la surface occupée par l’île de Montréal, l’île Jésus et la “rive-sud”.

  20. Samir: Au sud de Queen-Mary, l’autoroute Décarie a fait démolir au moins mille maisons.

    On n’en a jamais entendu parler, parce que ces maisons étaient occupées par des propriétaires qui, largement indemnisés, sont allés s’acheter des maisons neuves dans le West-Island.

    L’autoroute Décarie, elle, a démoli des logements locatifs, et si les propriétaires ont été indemnisés, les locataires, eux, ont été mis à la rue. C’est pour ça qu’on en entend encore parler.

  21. I would like to return to the original sentiment of “feeling sorry for the MTQ” that sparked this debate. No one will deny that the MTQ faces some major challenges and pressures from all sides. However, the idea that this should prompt pity is, I think, a dangerous thought.

    Yes, the MTQ employs a group of people who no doubt are chewing their nails and losing sleep, but ultimately it is a branch of the government that represents its citizens. We have the right to expect the very best from our government (even if this is not always proven by experience). Personifying the MTQ as Sam Imberman does is a way of distancing ourselves from the reality that the MTQ is acting on the behalf of the people who put it in power – us.

    Ignoring this fact may provide us with a comfortable position for commenting on the Turcot, but the consequences of this line of thinking goes far beyond highway infrastructure and threatens to make us passive citizens in public life.

  22. Jacob,

    Thank you for bringing this ‘argument’ back to earth. We can argue until we are blue in the face about whether this caused that, or what will be the result of various infrastructure scenarios, but that is all pure speculation.

    In fact, we should be arguing about how we, as a society, want to live in the future. This is a debate about values, not causality. I assume that we can all agree that we would like a ‘better quality of life’ (whatever that means) and no one wants to destroy the planet. So what does your ‘utopia’ look like?

  23. “Montreal’s core-neigbourhoods (the ones developed pre-1960’s) do have an excellent “human” scale and good mixed-use development.”

    One would add this is not likely a result of personifying and pitying the MTQ and the other government institutions which, over the years, were under the sway of suburban developers.

    The press is all over Mayor Tremblay for some water counters, but when will we see demands for Boulet’s resignation, given the increasing opposition to the Ministry’s “Pave our way out of the recession” agenda and the scandals coming to light involving the PPPs on many of these autoroute projects?

  24. Yes, congratulations to Jacob Larsen for this whole series. Indeed, although historical analysis of the errors that led to massive suburban sprawl and a car-centred society is needed, nowadays we have to work on solutions – both immediate solutions and imagined, envisioned ones about how we want to live in future.

  25. Great post and comments.
    And can I just say: never in my life have I seen or heard the word jitney.
    Dictionary.com says: “a small bus or car following a regular route along which it picks up and discharges passengers, originally charging each passenger five cents.”

    Isn’t that just AWESOME.

  26. I was e-mailed a link to these great photos, which I had never seen before, showing the strip lighting mentioned above.

    Thank You!

    http://neath.wordpress.com/2007/10/24/gabor-szilasi-2/

    Personally, the few times I drove these routes at night, I found the lights very distracting, similar to driving along a road bordered by trees.

    One advantage to the new routes when they were opened was that they took the pressure off the old traditional surface streets making them a viable choice for city travel once again.

  27. Jacob Larsen has attacked the style of my argument, but not its substance. Though frankly, if his battle plans require him to dehumanize his opponent, I can’t help but question his motives. What battle is he trying to pick, exactly – this petty little tiff against the MTQ, or the greater battle for a more sustainable way of life?

    Despite the platitudes about peak oil, transit uptake, and walkable neighbourhoods, I have yet to see any prominent member of the anti-Turcot movement present a clear, concrete alternative, with actionable steps, for how they intend to solve the short-term problem of a crumbling interchange. Arguments favouring tearing the whole shebang down have almost all ignored any thought about the unintended consequences of this action – often willfully, citing specious comparisons with cities like San Francisco. Nowhere is this better epitomized than on the Mobilisation Turcot web site, which specifically refuses any responsibility for finding a solution.

    It’s easy to knock the plans of a big bad bureaucracy. It’s a lot harder to fix them. And if we’re going to talk about being active or passive, I don’t think the anti-Turcot people are being active at all. They’re being loudly, forcefully passive.

    Honestly, guys, I’m on your side. But until the anti-Turcot movement can show me that they’re also pro-something, count me out of any future protests.

    For anyone who’s interested, I’ve expounded on my original article in the relevant Urbanphoto comments thread. But this thread? Man, I’m checking out.

  28. Why does everyone always have this virulent hate of automobiles?

    What is the problem with autoroutes, what is the problem with private automobiles?

  29. Well, any suggestions, sam? Trust me, what has been going on lately is a world away from the attention this project was getting when it was first released to the public. A lot has been accomplished! One interesting question that came up during the march concerned what was going to be done with the Ville Marie? It’s a great question that also highlights the lack of a cohesive plan by the MTQ or the City Of Montreal. You would think we would know what the plans are for the Ville Marie in great detail, but something is lacking and the Ville Marie has been subject to pretty much the same pounding as Turcot, though from what I have seen over the last 15 years or so, it has been better maintained.

    Of course it is a symptom of this era of Extreme Denial & Amnesia that we are even thinking of simply replacing these systems. Somewhere back in time it was decided that people who live 20-40 miles away from the city center were entitled to have roads that brought them unimpeded to downtown, regardless of the cost to the people who lived close to the city center. Why was such a group ever given such privileges? We have been doing things backwards long enough.

    Unbuild it and they will go away.

  30. Private automobiles wreck the planet, that’s the problem. Private automobiles need a lot more space than the man inside, so you have to demolish houses and pave over fields to make roads so the automobiles can go.

    Private automobile burn non-renewable oil, spewing out greenhouses gases that fuck-up the weather. Bigger hurricanes, New-Orleans destroyed, polar bears disappearing, you can thank automobiles for that.

    Private automobiles are an enormous drain on the Economy. 20% of the gross national product of Québec is DRAINED out of Québec by the road transport. Québec does not manufacture automobiles, so when you buy an automobile, the money leaves Québec. Québec does not have petroleum, so whenever you fill-up, the money leaves Québec and goes directly into the pocket of Saudi Barbaria, the country where Oussama Bin Laden came from.

    Private automobiles are so expensive that people have to pay as much as a third of their income just to sustain the darn thing. And when someone realizes he gets screwed, he will try to rationalize it and develop an irrational obsession with the thing, fueled further by the incessant marketing campaigns hammering the “need” to buy a bigger car, because if you don’t have an expensive car, you are a nobody.

    Private automobiles kill people. Over the years, automobiles have killed more people than the wars.

    Private automobiles make possible suburbs, where perfectly good arable land that was used for agriculture is wasted to put cookie-cutter houses, where kids get bored because there is nothing to do but take drugs, and the suburbs need autoroutes to get the people to the city, because there is nothing worthy in the suburbs, people have to go to the city anyways.

    And meanwhile, in the city, we have to endure the private automobiles from the suburbs that come and kill us, stink-up the air and take so much room that many houses had to be demolished to make parking lots, effectively destroying the city.

    That’s the problem with autoroutes, that’s the problem with private automobile. This is why we rationally hate them, because they only bring forth destruction.

  31. To Sam i

    The members of the coalition known as Mobilisation Turcot are not anti- automobile or anti-Turcot… They/we are pretty straight forward in acknowledging that the interchange structure problems need to be fixed… We are asking for something BETTER than what the MTQ is currently proposing.

    And the reasons why they have collectively not put forth specific alternatives are two-fold: 1) we are community groups, citizens, environmentalists, etc. and NOT a team of structural engineers specializing in highway structures, and 2) the MTQ has steadfastly refused to release the detailed maps, studies and other vital information our consultants need to properly assess and improve upon their proposal. So any proposal that we might propose would inherently be flawed and easily dismissed as unrealistic.

    Many of our experts have indeed sent the MTQ clear, actionable steps that will ensure the structural integrity of the interchange, reduce car emissions due to traffic and avoid expropriations . Pierre Brisset is perhaps the best known, but certainly not the only one with alternate solutions, some suggesting metal reinforcements, others favoring the tunnel option.

    Are they perfect? Of course not; how could they be, without access to all the information?

    As for what Mobilisation Turcot are for…

    ‘Honestly, guys, I’m on your side. But until the anti-Turcot movement can show me that they’re also pro-something, count me out of any future protests.’

    …You’re REALLY not paying attention :

    ‘We therefore demand that the government return to the drawing board, to develop a plan that will have a beneficial impact on the environment and on the population’s quality of life. The following objectives should be integral elements of any future plan:

    * The reduction of negative health effects upon neighboring communities.
    * The reduction of automobile traffic flow and increased investment into public transportation alternatives;
    * The opening of enclosed communities;
    * Preservation of existing affordable and low cost housing units;
    * Special economic subsidies to the communities most impacted by the negative effects of the major work during the construction period.

    Other cities around the world have managed to conceive and build similar grand projects that do respect these kinds of goals. Here in Quebec, it is possible to replaceTurcot within a framework of sustainable development and of respect for the environment and the local population.Let’s make it work!’

  32. Jody, glad to hear from the coalition. Has the coalition also addressed goods transport? I’m happy to see the development of this broad-based movement, and your colourful, participatory, peaceful demonstrations. A model.

    And Marc, as an old vélorutionnaire, couldn’t have said that better myself!

    Whether or not it is actually possible to eliminate private cars in urban areas (this does not include delivery or emergency vehicles, taxis, or even carshare schemes such as CommunAuto for people who occasionally need a car), it is impossible to prevent lethal global warming and pollution without drastically reducing the place of private cars in urban design and favouring better urban design to increase walkability, less-polluting public transport such as trams and generalised, well-designed cycle paths and strips.

    I have spent several weeks a year in Amsterdam in recent years, and while they have not eliminated cars, there are a lot of measures to discourage their use and encourage the use of bicycles, the wonderful, accessible trams, ands simply walking.

    I doubt it will ever be possible to eliminate trucking, but increasing transport via train and goods trams could also greatly reduce pollution.

  33. Marc Dufour,

    Wow… great summary! Very well written!!

    Oh… you can add “getting the world past “peak oil” much quicker than we can handle” to the list.

    – X

  34. Why are automobiles responsible for “lethal global warming”

    To me as an engineer the solution is not to get rid of the car but to design one that doesn’t produce such emissions, which is simple.

    It is like treating a cancer by getting rid of the patient!

  35. Samir,

    “Décarie et la métropolitaine ont étés construits dans des champs, littéralement, il n’y avait peu ou pas grand chose, en tout cas pas assez pour briser quelque tissue urbain que ce soit.”

    Une fois construites, ces autoroutes empêchent à tout jamais la création d’un tissus urbain de qualité dans leurs environs. Faut pas juste penser à ce qu’on démolit le jour de la construction de la route.

    “À côté de ça le petit 1.5 milliards … n’est que de la petite bière.”

    1.5 *milliards* pour une *intersection entre 3 routes*… mois je trouve que c’est pas une bonne utilisation de mes taxes.

    “Finalement, le bruit, poussière et accidents de la route causés par les vilains banlieusards qui sont les seuls à posséder des autos, bien sûr, sont pris en charge par le système de santé québecois.”

    Un piéton écrapouti sur le trottoir, c’est pas le système de santé qui s’en charge, c’est la morgue.

    Le bruit, la poussière et la pollution, c’est M. et Mme. Classe-Moyenne qui s’en “charge” en allant habiter a 60km de son travail… tout en empirant le problème. C’est ce qu’on appelle un cercle vicieux…

    Samir, quand je dis que la ville “paie”, je veux pas dire que le maire Tremblay fait des chèques aux maires de banlieue. Je veux dire que les habitants paie par les accidents, pollution, etc…

  36. Zvi,

    “but Montreal’s core-neigbourhoods (the ones developed pre-1960’s) do have an excellent “human” scale”

    Right. Absolutely. I was commenting on the other 80% of the city. :-) Our “good” neighbourhoods (in terms of scale, pedestrian friendliness etc…) are pretty good (like Plateau, Mile-end, Outremont, Hochelaga, etc…) but lots of ‘em are just as bad as 450 big box territory.

    Of course we could compare ourselves to Atlanta or Phoenix and feel great, but I’m saying that the “good” neighbourhoods in Montreal are very few.

    Pedestrian/cycle/transit unfriendliness is NOT a “450″ only affliction.

    - Xavier

  37. (oops… hit “submit by mistake” on my previous post…)

    Zvi (again),

    “Concerning the livability of Montreal, the core neighbourhoods are actually gaining in population quite rapidly these last few years.”

    Well, according to this communiqué from Projet Montréal, the city (as a whole, not just the core neighbourhoods) lost 24 187 habitants in 2006-07.

    http://www.projetmontreal.org/communique/26

    Since 2001, Montreal has seen a 136 630 net loss of population against the suburbs.

    The point Projet Montréal makes is valid. Montrealers are commenting on the state of the city by moving away (usually around the time the first baby comes around).

    My point is:

    Montreal can’t compete with the suburbs on ample free parking and unrestricted flow of traffic. It will *always* lose the battle on that metric alone, since the suburbs will always have more space to put huge parking lots and highways next to their big box stores.

    It *CAN* compete however with good urban form, providing stuff the suburbs don’t have, like walkability, proximity to shops/services/jobs/entertainment and good street life. As you mentionned, some core pre-1960 neighbourhoods still have a good template in place, despite various assaults from all levels since then.

    However, I still don’t see a clear will and understanding from Montrealers about such matters though. Until the general public starts caring about these things, good urban form won’t be on the radar of politicos… which means it won’t get built.

    -X

  38. Cyrus,

    There are no ‘technological solutions’ to our problems. Each time we find some technological improvement which makes our lives more efficient (or less expensive or less destructive), we respond by doing more of that activity: more efficient cars = less expensive to drive -> drive more! Make food cheaper, we eat more. This is nothing new – humans have always done this; it is in our nature. Except that now we are doing it on a global scale.

    Your analogy with cancer was a particularly apt one. Humans are in fact behaving very much like a cancer on the planet! We *are* expanding out of control and consuming all of the resources and irreversible hurting the entire planet. The only way we can truly have a ‘sustainable’ footprint is to radically reduce our numbers.

    The sustainable ‘carrying capacity’ of the planet (at “sustainable consumption levels) is apparently only a few hundred million human beings. With our current population levels, no matter what we do on the technological side, we are still going to be causing massive amounts of impact.

  39. Interesting comments.

    Having just moved to Montréal, we looked on the island where we could find a family sized home that was affordable. The reality is that you have to move to the West Island or South Shore to find decent accomodations.

    We lived for four months on the Plateau in a condo and from a certain point of view it was fantastic. But the living space was so small, parking was difficult, the kids didn’t enjoy it. Young children crying upset the neighbours, the exterior stairs were dangerous – be realistic people! Had we been a childless couple, then it would have been great (restaurant possibilities outweigh negatives), but for families the only really viable option are the suburbs.

    So let’s get practical about this. The commuter bus service from La Prairie to Montréal is an example of what should be put into place. Park and Ride – very frequent service, comfortable buses, more or less on time. Be pragmatic about this.

    As for Turcot, rebuild witb a little more capacity (it’s under capacity now), more reserved public transport lanes to the West Island and Laval and with a lot more appreciation for the local environment.

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