Quebec Transport Minister François Bonnardel announced on Thursday a call for tenders to expand Highway 30 on Montreal’s south shore.
The project will see an eastbound and westbound reserved lane added to a 20-kilometre span of Highway 30, stretching from Highway 20 in Boucherville to just beyond Highway 10 in Brossard.
Bonnardel said the expansion is part of a larger plan dubbed the Réseau métropolitain des voies réservées (RMVR) to create a network of reserved lanes for public transit and carpooling along highways in the Montreal area.
Highway 30 is one of the busiest highways in Quebec with around 80,000 motorists using the road daily, according to Bonnardel.
By adding a reserved lane, Bonnardel says the hope is to increase traffic flow and reduce rush hour traffic by encouraging motorists to use public transit.
“It’s the challenge I have, as transport minister, to change the behaviour of motorists and bring them to use public transit and to improve the offer,” he said.
Bonnardel believes, however, that when motorists alone in their vehicles see buses, or taxis going by in the reserved lane and getting from point A to point B faster, they might be tempted to try it out.
Mayors in municipalities serviced by Highway 30 welcomed the news.
Sainte-Julie Mayor Suzanne Roy said cutting down on congestion will lead to numerous environmental, social and economic benefits.
She explained that cars and trucks are often parked on the highway seven days a week, not because they’ve broken down, but because they’re stuck in traffic.
Improving traffic flow, “will cut down on green house gases,” she said, adding it will also improve quality of life of residents, who will gain precious time to spend with family or to pursue leisure activities.
Roy also said that congestion comes with important costs related to productivity, retaining employees and transport.
Treasury board president Sonia Lebel was also present for Thursday’s announcement.
Lebel reiterated the government’s commitment to fast-track the project as part of Bill 66 which was tabled on Wednesday at the National Assembly.
Under the proposed legislation, 181 infrastructure projects would benefit from a streamlined process aimed at speeding up the start of construction in a bid to strengthen Quebec’s economy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The expansion project on Highway 30, is also one of two projects under Bill 66 that would be allowed to bypass the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) responsible for informing and consulting with citizens, carrying out environmental investigations and providing recommendations to inform government decisions.
Lebel said that would allow to save around 20 months on the expansion project.
Work on Highway 20 is expected to begin in 2022, according to Bonnardel.
Bill 66, will be studied in committee this fall.
— With a file from Global’s Kalina Laframboise