Feds to relocate Lac-Mégantic rail yard as part of bypass project

Following outcry from local residents, the federal government has announced the Lac-Mégantic train bypass project will include moving the rail yard out of town and into an industrial park.

Safety advocates say the project is taking too long to bring to fruition

The train tracks that run through the centre of Lac-Mégantic will be dismantled by 2022, the government says. (Julia Page/CBC)

Following outcry from local residents, the federal government has announced the Lac-Mégantic train bypass project will include moving the rail yard out of town and into an industrial park.

The relocation is part of the project that, slated for completion in 2022, will move the trains away from Nantes and Frontenac so as to avoid the steep slope that caused the 2013 rail disaster, Transportation Minister Marc Garneau said in a statement.

The bypass project was first announced in May 2018, but the initial plan excluded the construction of a new rail yard and sorting station.

Residents in the area spoke out against the original plans, demanding more be done to protect residents.

Transport Canada met with the mayors of the municipalities concerned, launched a feasibility study this summer and revised the plan.

The project will improve safety and reduce the noise generated by the trains in Nantes and Frontenac, the statement said. 

Garneau said the government "will continue to work with municipalities and citizens to carry out this important social-reconstruction project."

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says he's 'very pleased' with the steps taken so far and the government will continue to listen to citizens and local officials. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

All work must begin in 2020. The necessary facilities will be funded 60 per cent by the federal government and 40 per cent by provincial.

To build the 12.8-kilometre bypass, the federal and provincial governments is spending more than $130 million. 

More than 6 years late, advocate says

Robert Bellefleur, spokesperson for a local rail safety group, said "this should have been the first measure implemented six and a half years ago."

With the federal election fast approaching, he said the announcement appears to be an attempt by the Liberals to keep the vote in the party's favour.

"I find it unfortunate, once again, that we are delaying decisions to take advantage of the election period, to announce projects that should normally have been put forward much earlier," he told Radio-Canada.

"The Lac-Mégantic tragedy happened in 2013. We are in 2019 and we still do not feel safe here."

With files from Radio-Canada


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