In the past month, it seems there’s been a rather large shift in public perception of the Turcot Interchange reconstruction project. All three major Montreal political parties have come out against it for not being green enough. The STM has come out against it. Over 100 individuals and groups have had something to say on the subject. You half expect Jean Charest is going to appear at a hearing and declare his government is outraged.
What gets me is that the Turcot project isn’t particularly evil. Yes, it involves a small number of expropriations and the public consultation process should have been done in the planning stage instead of after. But the core idea of the project – replacing a spaghetti network of aerial highways with a simpler, cheaper and easier-to-maintain ground-based interchange – was actually supposed to improve the city’s image, getting rid of what had almost universally been called an eyesore and a tired relic of 50s-era design, while improving the views of people who live in St. Henri.
The ministry of transport eventually acquiesced and agreed that there should be reserved bus lanes and other measures to encourage public transit, which should have been in the design regardless. But now they’re being asked by the green lefties to keep that eyesore in the sky. They argue that there would be more noise and dust if the cars were at ground level, and that it would cut off St. Henri from NDG (even though St. Henri is already cut off from NDG by a giant cliff).
I originally liked the idea of the Turcot being brought down to ground level when I first heard about it. There’s very little worth protecting directly under the interchange, and the savings on maintenance and improved views seemed to make it a no-brainer. Now I’m conflicted. Neither side has convinced me that their version is better for the environment, the neighbourhood and the city.
A special blog has been set up to keep people informed (separate from the anti-Turcot mobilization blog), and links to a del.icio.us feed of 62 articles about the Turcot project, sorted by language, subject and publication.