Drivers trying to get to and from Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport will have a smoother ride in the near future, say government officials who announced a $224-million reconstruction project Monday.
The project, which is being paid for by federal, provincial and municipal governments, involves the complete overhaul of the troublesome Dorval Circle plus the addition of new, direct links between the airport and Highways 20 and 520.
Once the work is done in 2013, travellers and airport employees will be able to get to and from the airport without interfering with local traffic, said Dorval Mayor Edgar Rouleau.
Rouleau has been waiting for the road project to get to this stage since he first became a city councillor in 1982.
He said reconstruction moved to the top of the priority list as traffic in the area exploded and the existing concrete structures began to fall apart.
"Finally," he exclaimed when asked how he felt about the project getting the go-ahead.
"They have already started. They are under tender now for all the bridges now."
Redesign to separate local and airport traffic
Eight new overpasses will be built as part of the project.
The circular Dorval interchange will be eliminated. In its place, Dorval Avenue will extend northward, isolating local traffic from roads linking the nearby highways with the airport.
New pedestrian and bike access will also be added.
The lion's share of the cost, $89 million, will be covered by the Quebec government. Ottawa will pay $55 million, with the City of Montreal pitching in $40 million. The airport and public transit will fund the rest.
Construction is expected to begin this spring.
No news on airport-downtown rail link
One highly-anticipated component was missing from Monday's announcement: the addition of a rail shuttle between the airport and downtown Montreal.
The federal and provincial governments are currently studying possible routes and costs.
Even though there is no formal agreement yet on the rail link, James Cherry, head of the Montreal Airport Authority, is optimistic that it can be built around the same time the Dorval circle project.
Cherry said if the rail project can go to public consultation next year, then the two projects could dovetail nicely.
"We're on track to be able to do that sometime in 2010. Does that mean 2013 is reasonable? Within a year of that, probably," said Cherry.
The airport has already worked a train stop into its new hotel and U.S. departures building.
"Under that building, we've built the tunnel and the shell of that station already. It's already there. So we're waiting for a spur line to come off that main line and we're ready to roll," said Cherry.