Montreal Metro's Blue line: What we know and what we don't about long-awaited extension

On Monday, Quebec formally announced a plan to extend the Montreal Metro's Blue line. Questions remain, including which level of government will pay for it and when construction will begin.

Questions remain about plans to extend the Montreal Metro's Blue line eastward to Anjou

The Blue line extension has been proposed several times over the past decade, but the plan has repeatedly been delayed. (Radio-Canada)

This story has been updated following Monday's announcement featuring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Philippe Couillard and Mayor Valérie Plante.

The proposal to extend the Montreal Metro's Blue line has been kicking around for decades. But persistent delays, broken promises and the blame game had left many Montrealers skeptical it would ever see the light of day.

The plan gained renewed momentum last month when it was included as part of the Quebec provincial budget. Finally, on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said it will go ahead.

​However, several questions remain about the Blue line project: what branch of government will pay what, when construction will get underway and when Montrealers will be able to access the new stations.

Here's what we know — and what we don't know — about the long-awaited Metro extension.

5 new stops

The extension will see five stations added to the Blue line over 5.8 kilometres, weaving along Jean-Talon Street in Saint-Leonard 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)

Those added stops will run from the corner of Pie-IX Boulevard and Jean-Talon Street and continue eastbound to des Galeries d'Anjou Boulevard.

Influx of commuters

The area is currently served by STM bus 141, which is 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.

That could mean good news for east-end business owners like Paul Micheletti, who has been running a sporting goods store on Jean-Talon Street East for 30 years.

Micheletti, who heads the local business owners group, said he's seen the city's east end empty out over the years, as residents have waited in vain for the Blue line to come through. 

He hopes the line's extension could reverse that trend.

Budget breakdown

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

But the total cost is estimated at $3.9 billion.

The exact amount each level of government will contribute remains a mystery, however.

For this type of project, the province typically puts up 60 per cent of the costs and Ottawa pays 40 per cent.

Completed by 2026

Couillard said Monday the Metro extension would be completed by 2026, and that expropriation is already underway. 

A bus rapid transit system (BRT) is also in the works along Pie-IX Boulevard. 

That project involves designating an 11-kilometre, reserved bus lane to link Montreal to Laval.

Construction on the Pie-IX BRT is expected to begin this fall and be ready in 2022.
Right now, Saint-Michel is the Blue line's easternmost station. The extension will mean commuters will be able to travel all the way to Anjou. (Sébastien Desrosiers/Radio-Canada)

Where to shovel?

Quebec has reserved several properties for expropriation along Jean-Talon Street, between Pie-IX and des Galeries d'Anjou boulevards.

The hold on those locations expires this spring and cannot be renewed.

The government still has to decide where the entry and exit points into the new stations will be located.

One of the exits to the new Lacordaire station is expected to be either near a building at the corner of Jean-Talon and Lacordaire boulevards, which currently houses a Pharmaprix and a medical clinic, or in a park across the street.

Frank Cavaleri, who owns that building, told CBC News in February that he'd prefer the exit to be in the park.

With files from Radio-Canada, Sudha Krishnan and Benjamin Shingler