Westmount residents support city's attempt to halt Turcot construction

Homeowners in Westmount say they hope a Quebec Superior Court judge will order an injunction to stop the construction of the Turcot Interchange.

City of Westmount wants judge to issue stop-work injunction because new design won’t decrease noise levels

Gabriel Flores has lived in Westmount for five years. Highway 136 is just metres from his home on Columbia Avenue. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

Homeowners in Westmount say they hope a judge will order an injunction to stop the construction of the Turcot Interchange.

"They are not respecting the height restriction that was originally agreed upon when the project was initially announced. My worry is that this will be a permanent issue in regards to excess noise levels," said Gabriel Flores, who has been living in Westmount, close to Highway 136 and the Turcot Interchange, for the last five years.

That's the reason why a lawyer representing the City of Westmount was in court Monday afternoon to try to persuade Quebec Superior Court Justice Élise Poisson to issue a stop-work order on the multi-billion dollar project.

Westmount says Transports Québec didn't consult with the city when plans were revised for the Turcot Interchange reconstruction. It contends once built, the new configuration will cause too much noise for residents in the area. (Charles Contant/CBC)
The City of Westmount compares the situation to a bait-and-switch.

It says the Transport Ministry's initial submission in 2008 for the new Turcot Interchange showed a roadway that would be lowered, helping to shield nearby residences from the noise of the 300,000 vehicles travelling along the highway every day.

Instead, in its 2015 revision of the plans, the level of the new highway is roughly at the same height as the now-demolished structure.

"That has health effects, effects on home property values. And while the construction I hear right now is temporary, the effect of not respecting the long-term agreement is actually permanent," said Flores, who lives on Columbia Avenue.
Highway 136 'won't be lowered as much as they said it would, and that's disappointing," says Westmount resident Marie-Ève Payeur. (CBC)

Another resident and new mother, Marie-Ève Payeur, says the loud noise from the highway can be heard until as late as 11 p.m. every week night.

"It's disappointing to us. Visually, we will still be able to see the highway. Had they done it according to the plan, we wouldn't be able to see it anymore or hear as much of the noise," she said.

Engineer testifies

Monday afternoon, the court heard from engineer David Maréchal, who testified for the Quebec Transport Ministry and KPH Turcot, the consortium building the project.

Maréchal is in charge of environmental issues for the consortium.

He acknowledged that one of the original criteria for getting the contract was to lower Highway 136 West, but he said the ministry never specified by how much.

"When we advanced in the conception, we got more detailed in our analysis," he said.

Maréchal said the new road will be lower than the existing temporary one, but in some spots, not much lower — only a few millimetres — because of an adjacent cliff.

"If we were to lower the freeway more, we'd have to dig into the cliff. It could be very risky."

Westmount also accuses the Transport Ministry and KPH Turcot of not doing enough to lower noise levels.

Maréchal said the consortium's obligation was to make sure noise levels didn't go up compared to the old highway. He pointed to sound-level test results which show that is being done.

With files from CBC reporter Simon Nakonechny