The highway link to nowhere

Suburban mayors are going crazy over suggested solutions to the 440 West Island problem. Come, gather ’round the fireplace as I explain it to you.

440 link to the West Island

Many moons ago, the Quebec Transport Department figured out that expropriating land from homeowners to build highways was a very expensive and time-consuming process. To help solve it, they asked themselves: Wouldn’t it be a good idea to “buy” the land now for a highway development later?

Enter the 440. Expecting to eventually link this East-West Laval highway to Highway 40 in Kirkland, the government planned a route for it and reserved the land so nobody would build anything there. At the time, of course, the entire area was undeveloped forest and farmland. Now, with development all around the proposed route in both Laval and the West Island, it’s easy to see on a satellite picture where the highway is going to go: on the winding strip of green between those houses.

Hoping to alleviate the West Island’s rush-hour traffic problem, Pierrefonds wants to build an “urban boulevard” on the Montreal Island part of the link, between Gouin Blvd. and Highway 40. It would, Pierrefonds mayor Monique Worth says, alleviate traffic on the main north-south axes: St. Charles Blvd., St. John’s Blvd. and Sources Blvd.

North-South axes in the West Island

OK, I get St. Charles. But Sources? By what stretch of the imagination is some route that takes Sources now going to benefit by this new road 10 km west?

Anyway, Worth cut in to her own argument in a CTV News interview today when she admitted the obvious: That rush-hour travellers to downtown would “still hit traffic on the 40”. The other obviousness is that almost all of the northern West Island is east of this proposed boulevard, meaning they won’t use it to get downtown.

The idea isn’t necessarily bad. It will help alleviate traffic on St. Charles which heads between the northern West Island and western off-island areas. But it’s not going to help one bit with the Great West Island Trek Downtown, whose biggest traffic problem is the Decarie Circle (and Highway 20/Highway 13 merge).

As for Highway 440, the link would have some advantages, the biggest one being a fixed link between Ile Bizard and Laval. Currently, though there are three ferries, there is no fixed link from Highway 40 to the north shore between Highway 13 and Hawkesbury, Ontario. That makes some significant detours.

But the proposed link also runs right through Ile Bizard’s nature park. And cutting down all those trees to build a highway is not only unpretty, it kind of goes against the whole “environment” thing.

Let’s start with small steps, the first being a fixed link between Ile Bizard and Laval. When the roads along that route start overflowing with traffic, then we can talk about building a highway.

Until then, keep the right-of-way reserved for now. Maybe have a dirt path for people to bike through. It’s trees, and they’re good, mmm’kay.

24 thoughts on “The highway link to nowhere

  1. James Lawlor

    Having lived in Kirkland for the past 5 years and now happily living in NDG, I have a few thoughts about this idea.

    NO WAY.

    Pierrefonds is trying to set a new record for irresponsible suburban sprawl. Monique Worth’s idea of sustainable development is a green roof over a municipal building.

    There have been a lot of single family homes built in the last few years west of Chateau Pierrefonds. Right now, these new residents are forced to travel along Pierrefonds Blvd, or Antoine-Faucon to get to St Charles (or St Jean or even Sources) to eventually get to the 40. The short term plan of Pierrefonds is to connect the 40 with Gouin to have a 4th North-South route for the residents of these new houses.

    There was a plan for Chateau-Pierrefonds to connect to Kirkland via Chateau-Kirkland but Kirkland didn’t like the idea. Look at the stub of a road at the south end of Chateau-Pierrefonds to see the result: There is a house in the way!

    This new road (or urban boulevard – AKA traffic sewer) will allow the paving over of the remaining green space in the west island (west of chateau-Pierrefonds). It is a terrible idea and should be stopped.

  2. Kristian

    Looking at this map, you’ll notice that the proposed highway is fatter and redder than the existing roads, which are skinny and yellow.

  3. Neath

    I dunno, maybe if Mirabel had been a success, but Mirabel was doomed without a high speed train to downtown that never got built because land was owned by…..The powers that be are totally stoned on freeways and bypasses and billion dollar projects these days…We used to actually believe we were a world class city here, but with our green space record in the Sustainable Era we are getting to be more on a par with Buffalo all the time, and they are digging up the golf course at the airport as well.

  4. Casey McKinnon

    You know Sommerset (part of Jacques Bizard that divides DDO from Kirkland)?,+pierrefonds,+qc&sll=45.48326,-73.80797&sspn=0.28548,0.752563&ie=UTF8&ll=45.469732,-73.847823&spn=0.017847,0.047035&z=15&iwloc=addr&om=1

    That street was originally supposed to be a highway that went straight to the Lakeshore General hospital! (Pretty important road, huh?) Well, thanks to stupid people who moved onto Jacques Bizard and Sommerset and didn’t look at the street plans before doing so… they petitioned so that the city could not build a major street or highway.

    The same happened to other streets in that area (streets that were supposed to go through to de Salaberry, do not… because locals complained that it would cause too much traffic). Seriously, my parents were the first to move into the Westminster area and chose the location to build their house because they studied the street plan… these petitioners should have known better before they moved to the area.

    Imagine how much easier an ambulance could get to the hospital with a direct route… and less traffic due to another major street.


  5. Chris

    I was hoping we finally figured out that new highways only CREATE MORE TRAFFIC and do little to alleviate traffic problems elsewhere. St. Charles, Sources, etc. might see a slight reduction in traffic at first but as soon as the new strip malls and fast food joints open on the new “urban boulevard” and more people start driving because there are more places to do it and the illusion that traffic is now better, traffic will be just as bad and people will be whining about needing another highway.

    Highway construction needs to be a thing of the past. We need to look at as something old fashioned and highways themselves should be looked at as relics from the 20th century much like we look at old factories and the Lachine Canal now.

  6. Neath

    Interesting point, Chris. The one thing politicians don’t seem to want to admit is that traffic situations cannot be improved, it s a horrible catch 22 – if you did improve it, more people will drive making traffic the same or worse. And that s the whole story in a nutshell.

  7. Pingback: Fagstein » A city planner is getting rich somewhere

  8. Shawn

    Extending Jacques Bizard makes sense. I sometimes come home to Ile Bizard via the Pierrefonds side of Jacques Bizard when stopping at Reno Depot or Canadian Tire.

    The highway 440 extension would destroy many of the positive aspects of Ile Bizard, which include the remaining green spaces and also diversity of wilflife (including deer and owls).

    What we need to alleviate traffic congestion is a Metro extension from Cote Vertu to Fairview !! An additional stop near the Kirkland Coliseum area would also be good for facilitating the commute into the city for off-island residents.

  9. Heather Deeks

    I’ve seen this story repeatedly played out my entire life. Nature mowed down in the name of “progress” I was at the park on April 10th, there are many migratory birds there. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I thought interferring with migratory birds, ie, geese, herons, is a crime punishable under the Criminal Code, n’est pas? Why doesn’t the park have the status of Migratory Bird Sanctuary?
    I also totally agree with Chris- Letter # 6 – a new highway isn’t going to do anything to alleviate the traffic problems around Montreal. Quebec should follow the Swiss example and demand that all inter-provincial truck traffic passing thru it’s territory use railways instead. That ought free up some highways.

    Thanks for posting the article, interesting blog!

  10. Christian Provost

    I don’t care if we have to destroy the nature park,

    what’s better, in your opinion? — Taking 1 hour to go to St-Jérôme from L’Île-Bizard just to let many old people visit their nature park to let them have their peace, or that it takes only 25-30 minutes to go there (much easier to go skiing yahies!!! :D),10 minutes to go to Carrefour Laval and about 15-20 minutes to go to the metro station on St Martin Blvd?

    Is that influencing our life time or quality to have a highway in L’Ile-Bizard? I don’t think so…

    But I agree that many people living on streets as on Rue Thibodeau may hear cars and trucks all the time rolling at over 100 kmph.

    AND, the Jacques-Bizard Bridge!! How much time will it take to collapse since we don’t have a second and faster-driving bridge to take? It will make students losing 1 or 2 years of school, people poor because not working, of course!! we have the ferry, but have a good waiting time!

  11. Le David

    I don’t want to sound rude, but Christian’s observations sound incredibly closed-minded, thinking only of the current situations and not those of the future. Fuck getting to/from a metro station based on convenience, I take the train every Goddamned day and you don’t hear me complain because it’s part of suburban life. Fuck ‘instant’ access to offshore stripmalls and the whatnot, we have enough of those here in our sprawling metropolis. And the Jacques-Bizard bridge? They’re expanding it as we speak, making it more accessible to pedestrians and cyclistes; not to mention, it’s far from collapsing. “Old People” make up a minority of those who frequent the nature park, as I myself used to enjoy riding my bike there often enough.

    People who think this way piss the shit outa me, as if it is even possible to defecate urine. The ferry is run by cables, and water, which is a renewable source of energy. The drive to ski resorts is part of the anticipation of getting there and enjoying yourself. Clearly, SOME of us don’t live in/around L’Ile Bizard, or appreciate the little scenic values it even has left.

  12. Jason

    I live in Pierrefonds, not to far from where the highway would be built. I say BRING IT ON.

    Do you know how much traffic is on Antoine Faucon during the morning rush hour? Its a freaking residential street! Its the only one out of the area though so all the traffic has to go on it.

    I don’t care if the build the highway or not. I really don’t but at least put a road on that reserved land in Pierrefonds.
    Road or Highway, I don’t care, but PLEASE PUT SOMETHING!!!!

  13. Jay

    I can promise any person in favor of this pointless highway extension that if it does see the light of day that L’Ile Bizard for the majority, will waste your tax paying dollars with petition after petition and will have every single environmental group you can think of and locally and nationally to aide in the topple of this ridiculous ‘plan’. The plan was made originally in the 60’s and times have changed since then thankfully. We should learn from our mistakes rather than repeat them-its a no-brainer.
    L’Ile Bizard is rich in wildlife and natural habitat sensitive to such disruption.
    In the spring, summer and fall the boat launch and small beach on the west side sees hundreds of visitors to enjoy the somewhat clean waters of Lake of 2 Mountains. Cyclists and Kayaking are enjoyed by outdoors lovers. Why destroy a natural gold mine so close to the city? This green space is there for us now and should be for future generations to enjoy. This entire area should be formally protected by the government of Quebec with support of it’s tax paying peoples.

  14. Jason

    I agree, the Ill Blizzard portion is a bad idea. My point was to build the section that would be built on the West Island. Doesn’t have to be a highway, another “St. Charles” or St. jean” would be fine. Heck, I’ll even settle for a gravel road!

    A few days ago, I drove around the Ill Blizzard “lakeshore” road and it was spectacular. Adding another bridge to Laval or Ill Bigras wouldn’t be a bad idea. Not a bridge for cars, just for bikes and people.

  15. Jason

    I was just thinking, if/when a highway or boulevard is created will it stop at the 40 or will it go all the way to the 20?

    Look at the map:

    Right now, if you are on the 20 once you past St. Charles, the only North/South route is all the way in Saint-Anne-De-Belleview.

    “My” new road (see map above) connects boul. Gouin, boul. Pierrefonds, Antoine Faucon, Highway 40, ave Elm, Highway 20 and finally ave Woodland together. It also provides quick access to the Beaurepaire train station on the Dorion line.

    I know what you are saying, “who’s going to want a busy highway in their neighborhood?” But that’s one of my points in a previous post. It doesn’t have to be a highway. Another major urban boulevard like St. Charles or St. Jean will do wonders!

  16. Jason

    Now that Ville de Kirkland has decided to be a total A-hole by adding “No Left Turns” on Henri Daoust during morning rush hour traffic, we need that new road more than ever. Henri Daoust is the only road that goes south from Antoine Faucon and stupid Kirkland is taking this vital shortcut away.

    Please whomever is reading this from Pierrefonds, please build the new road! Just put a simple gravel road for the time being to alleviate the traffic on Antoine Faucon. Is it to much trouble to get a simple route to the Beaconsfield Train Station without having to sit in traffic for 30min+?

    1. Jason

      Hardly a surprise. From day one of the announcement, residents of Kirkland & Pierrefonds were saying that the announcement was nothing more than a lie. Just a way to buy votes. That they had experiences they types of announcements one after another and every time, the project was cancelled.

      Andrew Carter from CJAD asked Yolande James in an interview if the project was going to be cancelled after the election. She said that it was a Quebec government announcement and not a Liberal one implying that it was set in stone.

      Whatever, I do not believe anything any level government says until I see the construction actually begin. I’ve seen way to many “promises” made about so-an-so only to be cancelled shortly there after.

      I think I am becoming very cynical in my ripe old age of 35.

  17. Jason

    Today is Jan 23, 2024

    It’s been over 10 years since I last posted a comment to this article, almost 17 years since this article was first published. Guess what? Still no road. A total Shocker! not.

    I remember reading something about making a road for the REM, just for buses, taxis, etc….
    All I can see is a bike path that has since been developed. Wow! Wait to go! lol


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *