Montreal

Trudeau, Couillard commit to Blue line extension, but offer few financial details

There was no major funding announced, but both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said Monday they are committed to making the long-awaited extension of the Metro's Blue line a reality.

'We have passed the point of no return,' Quebec premier says, insisting project will go ahead

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, flanked by Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, announced his commitment to the Blue line extension. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

There was no major funding announced, but both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said Monday they are committed to making the long-awaited extension of the Metro's Blue line a reality.

The five-station extension eastward to Anjou will be completed by 2026, Couillard said, and expropriation for the project is already underway.

The project itself now is guaranteed.- Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard

At a news conference alongside the prime minister, Couillard acknowledged previous provincial governments have promised such an extension.

But he insisted this time is different and more than an electoral ploy ahead of the Oct. 1 provincial vote.

"The project itself now is guaranteed. We have passed the point of no return," Couillard said.

"You cannot ask people to leave their home and say a few weeks later, 'Well, you know, I'm not sure, maybe we should reconsider.'"

Beating the deadline

The Quebec government needed to act quickly.

It had put several properties on reserve for expropriation along Jean-Talon Street, between Pie-IX and des Galeries d'Anjou boulevards. Those reserves were set to expire.

For now, Quebec is devoting $346 million to study the project, while Ottawa is putting forward $16 million.

The total cost of the extension is pegged at $3.9 billion. There were no specifics on how that would be covered.

Trudeau said the federal government will put money toward the extension in the second phase of its infrastructure plan.

The decision to back the project, he said, is part of his government's attempt to build "sustainable communities, while promoting economic development and the growth of the middle class."

5 new stations

The extension will see five stations added to the Blue line over 5.8 kilometres, running along Jean-Talon Street to reach Anjou in the city's east end.

Extending the Blue Line would give a boost to Montreal's sustainable development, say proponents. (Radio-Canada)

The added stops will start at the corner of Pie-IX Boulevard and Jean-Talon Street and continue eastbound to des Galeries d'Anjou Boulevard.

The area is currently served by STM bus 141, one of the top five busiest routes in the city.

Montreal's regional transportation authority estimates that an additional 25,600 passengers will take the Metro during morning rush hour once the extension is up and running.

The extension has been discussed in various forms since 1979. The plan unveiled Monday was first announced in 1988.

With files from Sean Henry

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