Premier Jean Charest said the Quebec government would go ahead with a proposed extension of Montreal's Metro system, announcing it will spend $12 million on feasibility studies.
Provincial Transport Minister Julie Boulet and the mayors of Montreal, Longueuil and Laval were on hand for the announcement at the Berri-UQAM Metro station, Wednesday.
The three mayors have proposed an extension that would add up to 20 kilometres to the Metro system in the next decade.
The plan would include:
- Closing the Orange Line loop by connecting the Côte-Vertu and Montmorency stations.
- Five kilometres added to the Blue Line extending to Saint-Léonard and Anjou.
- Five new stations added to the Yellow Line to serve the Pierre-Boucher Hospital and CÉGEP Édouard-Montpetit.
- The plan does not include any extension to the West Island.
The results of the studies are expected within three years, but Boulet said the entire project wouldn't be ready before 2020.
Officials estimate the plan could cost more than $4 billion.
The Metro was extended to Laval in 2007 at a cost of approximately $150 million per kilometre.
But, Charest said the government's intention to proceed with the project is clear.
"What we're announcing is irreversible," he said.
Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay said the plan would help improve access to public transit on the island, and also help improve air quality.
The announcement comes two days before the official launch of municipal election campaigns across Quebec.
West Island mayors disappointed
Mayors of some communities on Montreal's West Island expressed frustration the plan does not include extending the Metro westward.
Beaconsfield Mayor Bob Benedetti said existing transit services simply can't handle the number of commuters.
"It's a joke," said Benedetti. "This is the same transportation system we had when I was a kid."
Dollard-des-Ormeaux Mayor Ed Janiszewski said plans to build a light-rail link to Trudeau airport will do little to relieve transit users' woes, because he said 60 per cent of West Island residents live north of Highway 40.
"They don't care about us," said Janiszewski. "We don't count because we always vote Liberal."
Metropolitan Transport Agency (AMT) president Joël Gauthier said the agency is spending $212 million to improve rail services, including access in the West Island.
Gauthier said a feasibility study for the airport rail link should be released by the end of the year.