Montreal

Lac-Mégantic study proposes almost 12 km of new track to skirt town

A preliminary feasibility study by the town of Lac-Mégantic, Que., is calling for the construction of 11.6 kilometres of new track to skirt the town's centre, devastated by a deadly derailment and fire nearly three years ago.

Bypass would cost $115M, according to preliminary study

Mayor Jean-Guy Cloutier has been pushing for a rail bypass to prevent another rail accident in the small Quebec community. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

A preliminary feasibility study by the town of Lac-Mégantic, Que., is calling for the construction of 11.6 kilometres of new track to skirt the town's centre, devastated by a deadly derailment and fire nearly three years ago.

The new track would cost $115 million, according to the study, which was funded by the federal and provincial governments.

Mayor Jean-Guy Cloutier has been pushing for a rail bypass to prevent another fiery rail disaster in the small Quebec community.

On July 6, 2013, a runaway train carrying oil tankers derailed and exploded in the centre of Lac-Mégantic, killing 47 people.

Forty-seven people were killed three years ago after a runaway train carrying crude oil exploded and destroyed the centre of Lac-Mégantic. (Reuters)

The study, which has been underway for the past nine months, examined different options to allow trains to skirt the town centre of Lac-Mégantic and found three possible routes.

"We have established a need for such a rail bypass, and we have looked at different types of solutions," said the town's deputy manager, Marie-Claude Arguin.

The preferred option starts slightly west of Lac-Mégantic and follows Highway 161.

Residents to weigh in on options

Lac-Mégantic residents are invited to weigh in on the options, visiting information kiosks and meeting professionals to discuss the findings. 

The event is underway from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday at the Centre Sportif Mégantic and again on May 11, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Residents gather to see the results of the preliminary study. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

The second part of the study, which will involve more specific recommendations, will be released next spring.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau has said the federal government will not commit money to a bypass until the feasibility study is completed.

'A complex project'

The coalition of citizens advocating for a bypass said it will react to the contents of the study tomorrow, but in a statement, it criticized how long the process is taking and says it is deceived by the delays.

"I guess my answer to the citizens, be it the coalition or anybody else who says its long — I would say you're correct. It's a long project. But it's a complex project that needs to be done properly," said Arguin. 

She added that the project must comply with federal regulations, which is part of the reason it is taking time.

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