Turcot interchange pedestrian overpass disappears from plans, angering Montrealers

Click to play video: 'What happened to pedestrian overpass in Turcot project?' What happened to pedestrian overpass in Turcot project?
WATCH ABOVE: NDG residents will have a chance to ask Transports Quebec and the City of Montreal about a pedestrian and bicycle overpass originally planned to run beside the future Turcot Interchange – Mar 27, 2017

Seven years ago, Transports Quebec presented the public with plans for a new Turcot interchange that would include a pedestrian overpass.

Now, environmentalists and Montreal residents are upset that the proposed overpass has disappeared from the plans. People not only want the overpass back; they want answers from the ministry.

They had a chance to speak to Transports Quebec directly at an NDG neighbourhood meeting on Monday night.

“Where did it go?” Lisa Mintz asked about the overpass.

Mintz is part of a coalition of individuals and environmental groups rallying to put the overpass back on the drawing board.

She said the proposed pedestrian overpass was a selling point for the rebuilt interchange, which connects highways 15, 20 and 720, and gives drivers access to the Champlain Bridge.

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“They call it a bait and switch,” Mintz said.

READ MORE: NDG residents say noise from Turcot interchange construction getting worse

The overpass was in the original plans for the new Turcot interchange but was scrapped back in 2012, two years after Transports Quebec proposed it.

“I think we’ve been cheated!” Mintz added.

What’s more, the coalition said the overpass disappeared without notice.

“We just discovered it through some obscure plans that they sent to some citizens,” said Felix Gravel from the Conseil Regional Environnement Montreal, which is also part of the coalition.

“If you decide to cut the only infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists, please tell us because it’s a society choice.”

The coalition has started a petition that’s gathered just over 1,000 signatures.

They are also asking children to draw their own versions of a green Turcot interchange. Their drawings will be sent to Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard.

“The campaign will show him that there is a social mobilization,” Gravel said.

READ MORE: Portion of the Saint-Jacques escarpment bulldozed

The proposed overpass would connect the St. Jacques escarpment to the Lachine canal.

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It would offer improved connections between the South-West Borough, NDG and Verdun.

The project would also give residents access to downtown and the new superhospital, all while adding a green element to the new Turcot.

Critics say it’s crucial for the area.

The Turcot interchange is shown in Montreal, Thursday, March 23, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham Hughes

“It’s clear to me: having to go around by Ville Saint-Pierre and Saint-Henri is just dangerous and too much distance,” NDG city councillor Peter McQueen said.

Transports Quebec told Global News they decided to eliminate the overpass because it was too expensive.

They said they found more cost-effective ways to include green spaces in the project, as well as options for pedestrians and cyclists.

READ MORE: Will the Turcot Interchange finish on time and on budget?

Those options include enlarging sidewalks and adding 6.7 km of new bike lanes.

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The ministry has also planned for 200,000 square metres of green space.

“Sometimes I think [Transports Quebec] lives in an alternate reality,” Mintz reacted.

The new Turcot interchange is slated to be complete in 2020.

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