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Dorval Interchange rebuild could drag on until the end of the decade

  • Dorval Mayor Edgar Rouleau, July 24, 2013, pictured here on the unfinished ramp from Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport to Highway 20 eastbound.
    Dorval Mayor Edgar Rouleau, July 24, 2013, pictured here on the unfinished ramp from Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport to Highway 20 eastbound.
    Photo credit: (John Kenney / THE GAZETTE)

It’s a rare day Mayor Edgar Rouleau says he doesn’t hear a complaint from somebody, somewhere on the West Island about the reconstruction of the Dorval Interchange.

And the Dorval mayor adds it is an even rarer day that he doesn’t share the frustration many have about the $350-million project, first announced in 2005 and, originally scheduled to be completed in 2013.

The project, which will eventually do away with the Dorval Circle and connect Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport directly to Highway 20 is advancing at a slow pace. It is now forecasted to be completed in stages between 2015 and 2019.

Two half-finished concrete structures, elevated sections of roadway visible from Highway 20 and which will eventually link Highway 20 directly to Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport, are now referred to by many West Island residents, including Rouleau, as the “ramps to nowhere”

Protracted negotiations between Transport Quebec and the railways, CP and CN, according to Rouleau, stand in the way of the work that needs to be done to connect the so-called “ramps to nowhere” and reconfigure Dorval Avenue and Highway 520 (Côte de Liesse Blvd.) as well as the terminals for STM busses, AMT commuter trains and VIA Rail passenger trains.

“It’s an embarrassment,” said Rouleau, when he sat down in his Dorval city hall office for an interview about the project last week.

The interchange’s proximity to the airport makes “it not just the entrance to Dorval but to Montreal, to Quebec and, for some travellers, the entrance to Canada,” Rouleau said. “If they visited our city four years ago, what they saw then, they see now.”

Rouleau conceded the comment may not be entirely fair but, added he is frustrated because the city of Dorval is powerless to speed up the pace of work.

“The hotel was never a major hold up,” Rouleau said, referring to the legal dispute between Transport Quebec and Fairfield Inn & Suites, the company which operates the hotel on Michel Jasmin Ave. under the Marriott banner.

A provisional settlement was reached in 2012, allowing Transport Quebec to take possession of almost 70,000 square feet of land around the hotel.

“Yes, we had a problem there,” said Rouleau, “but (the issues with) CN and CP are still not settled.”

He explained the next stage of the project calls for two pillars to support the access roads that will connect the airport and Highway 20, bypass Dorval Circle and, thereby, connect the so-called ramps to nowhere.

However, those supporting pillars, according to Rouleau, need to go up on property owned by CN and CP and, that’s where the problem lies.

Both railways run double tracks (one eastbound, one westbound) through Dorval, which they use for freight and, also share in CN’s case, with VIA Rail passenger trains and, in CP’s case, with Agence de Métropolitaine de Transport commuter trains.

Further complicating the picture is the need for dedicated commuter rail lines and a long-promised airport rail link.

The negotiations between the the province and the railways are continuing but, Sarah  Bensadoun, a spokesperson for Transport Quebec said she couldn’t provide much more detail. Details on the negotiations from the railways are similarly hard to come by.

“Everything involving CN has been ratified for two and a half years,” according Louis-Antoine Paquin, a CN spokesperson for Eastern Canada. “CN and Transport Quebec have an agreement.”

As for CP, company spokesperson Ed Greenberg said: “The process is ongoing with this very complex project involving a number of stakeholders.

“CP remains committed and discussions continue with Transport Quebec to find workable solutions,” said Greenberg.

Former Quebec Liberal premier Daniel Johnson, brought in by former Premier Jean Charest in 2012 to help the negotiations along, is still in charge of the dossier, according to Transport Quebec’s Bensadoun.

In the meantime work is continuing this summer on the westbound access road off of Highway 20 to the airport. That road as well as the eastbound access road from the airport to Highway 20 are scheduled to be completed by 2015 but, Bensadoun said, “it depends on negotiations.”

As for Mayor Rouleau, he says, he like everyone else, will continue to wait and wonder when work on the Doral Interchange project will all come to an end.

“We can’t stay like this forever,” he said. “Since this country was born, the railway has always been king. But how they are going to settle this situation is anyone’s guess.”

ccornacchia@montrealgazette.com

Twitter: cornacchiaGAZ

 

 CORRECTION: Sarah Bensadoun is the correct name of the spokesperson for Transprot Quebec, not Sarah Vinet as reported in an earlier version.

10 comments

  1. I pass thru this every day to & from work, and have done since this whole thing started All I ever see is about 2-4 guys working away. And that’s a rarity..

    Pretty sad, really, that the work cannot proceed at a proper pace. But this is Quebec, and this is to be expected..

  2. By J.Dedicik

    Is there any way you can diagram this to help understand where the problem is?- and what progress has been made to date? Also, what exactly is the issue? Is it that the pillars would block the trains? Or,are the railways holding out for big bucks? Or……????
    From your article it is very difficult to understand why all this should take so long. Surely someone could help settle it sooner so we won’t have to wait 4 or 5 more years. What a mess!!!
    J

  3. By ynotbike

    Hey Mr. Mayor, why don;t you start a citizens’ petition to embarrass CP and put pressure on the company to finish negotiations? If CN did it why in the world can’t CP? Circulate the petition at the airport so travellers to/from the airport become aware of this ridiculous situation… I am certain practically everyone who passes through the airport will sign it. In no time you will have hundreds of thousands of signatures. Then present it to the CP CEO via a Gazette full page advertisement. Or is that too hard to do?

  4. Everything in this province is an embarassment! From the gov’t to the corruption to the inefficient morons that manage this decrepid province. It’s no wonder nothing is good and why all good people are leaving. But in my opinion, the most embarassing element of Montreal are it’s people that consistently let themselves get taken for fools. No one ever speaks up or does anything. Other countries would have been turned inside out. But noooo, quebecers simply love getting the short end of every stick. Unless people stand up and take back this place, they deserve all they get from it.

  5. By georgepeter HERMAN

    TYPICAL..all over the world things get done efficiently..EXCEPT in snow bound CUBA..er QUEBEC..a third WORLD country..

  6. By Paul Broomfield

    We can thanks the QLP for this mess. Their 9 years in power have left a disastrous legacy that will haunt us all for years to come.
    PS Also note that the train de l’ouest is still just an “idea”.

  7. By Johnny Niviaxie

    i’m fed up with the dorval circle. do you know how many traffic lights we go through just to go downtown or home?

  8. I would suggest that the Quebec Transport read and adopt the same Federal US Policy pertaining to Right of way acquisition policies and procedures as contained in the US Federal gov’t Uniform Act of Right of Way of 1970 procurement and procedures of 1970 and its amendments over the years! Had they done so, construction would have never began until the right of way rights were secured first! Just another costly mistake on part of the higher up government officials that goes un challenged resulting in the working tax payers picking up the tab!

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