Montreal mayor poised to announce transformation of Notre-Dame Street East

The plan includes either a tram line or an extension of the city’s light-rail network, the REM, now under construction. The Caisse de dépôt et placement has been mandated to choose which public transit system is preferable.

Artist's rendition shows green-lined boulevard with bike path and train connecting the east end to downtown

Looking west toward Montreal's Jacques-Cartier Bridge, this artist's rendition shows train tracks, trees, landscaping, sidewalks, a bike path and six lanes for cars. (Submitted by Graph Synergie)

Montreal is planning to transform the city's busy Notre-Dame Street East into a long, urban boulevard lined with greenery, a bike path and tracks for public transit, Radio-Canada has learned.

The heavily congested thoroughfare connects the island's easternmost tip to downtown. Running parallel to the St. Lawrence River, it provides access to Highway 25 and the densely packed neighbourhoods further east.

After a year of planning, Mayor Valérie Plante is scheduled to announce her administration's objectives for the street on Friday, but Radio-Canada obtained the documentation early under the Access to Information Act.

The plan includes either a tram line or an extension of the city's light-rail network, known as the REM, now under construction.

Quebec's pension fund manager, the Caisse de dépôt et placement, which is responsible for the REM, has been mandated to choose the best mode of public transit.

"The essential element is the structuring of public transport in a way that will allow for the development of neighbourhood life, local commercial arteries and access to the river," said Plante.

The mayor declined to provide cost estimates but said the city already has the budget in place for land decontamination — something  that is crucial "when we want to develop the east."

"This has been dragging on for a number of years, and it is being addressed thanks to the will of the Quebec government and the City of Montreal," Plante said.

'The east is ripe,' says mayor

Plans to modernize Notre-Dame Street East have been announced several times since 1979, but little has changed in the four decades since.

In 2007, then-mayor Gérald Tremblay vowed to double the width of the street, expanding it to eight lanes from four. There's been plenty of traffic-snarling roadwork since, but most of the nine-kilometre stretch of road between highways 25 and 720 remains four lanes in width.

More recently, a project announced in 2010 was abandoned because it was deemed too expensive — as much as $1.5 billion.

The mayor said this time is different.

"All levels of government are at the table," Plante said.

"We even heard that the federal government wants to join this agreement. This is very auspicious. The east is ripe."

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says the plan will incorporate public transit, allowing for the development of businesses and neighbourhoods along the stretch. (Submitted by Graph Synergie)

She expects redevelopment to take eight to 10 years.

The Plante administration's vision of Notre-Dame Street's future will be released Friday during an event marking the anniversary of Montreal and Quebec's joint commitment to redevelop the city's east end.

The minister responsible for the Montreal region, Chantal Rouleau, is expected to be on hand for the announcement.

based on a report by Radio-Canada with files from Jean-Sébastien Cloutier


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