New Turcot will come later and cost more, Marois says

Premier Pauline Marois announced both new spending and a cost cap for the new Turcot project, which is now expected to be completed by 2020.
Quebec pushes back the start date for the rebuilding of the Turcot interchange. 2:48

Montreal's new Turcot interchange will come later and at a higher cost.

Premier Pauline Marois made the announcement this morning, saying the projected cost of the Turcot is now $3.7 billion, more than double the $1.4 billion price tag that was announced in 2007.

Its expected date of completion has also been pushed back, from 2018 to 2020.

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois announces her government's plan for the reconstruction of the Turcot interchange on March 25.

This newest estimate is up $700 million from the last one, which Marois said is a reserve to account for possible cost overruns.

"It should not cost more," she said at the press conference.

Marois also announced $100 million in new initiatives related to the project — $40 million for public transit and $60 million for urban integration.

Plans for public transit include a reserved bus lane on Sherbrooke Street West between the Montreal West train station and Vendôme metro station, a reserved bus lane on Highway 13 to improve bus access between Laval and Côte-Vertu metro and more park-and-go lots outside the city’s core.

Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT) president  Nicolas Girard said he was pleased with the influx of money into public transit.

A temporary Victoria-Lachine train station on the Candiac commuter line will be added, and Girard said he expects it to become a permanent stop on the line.

"I think that each time the AMT puts temporary measures, a couple of years later it becomes a permanent measure, so I think that’s going to be the case this time," he said.

The future of the Southwest borough

The proposed new Turcot. (CBC)

The government has other infrastructure priorities in the area. It plans to repair Notre-Dame Street West between the Angrignon interchange and turn Pullman Street into a boulevard. Marois said Quebec will also help the City of Montreal finance studies on the future of the Turcot Yards.

Plans to improve the area around the Gadbois recreation area, which is directly underneath a part of the Turcot that crosses the Lachine Canal, have also been made.

But Shannon Franssen of Mobilisation Turcot, a St-Henri-based group calling for a smaller interchange, questioned whether the measures announced today will really improve the quality of life of nearby residents.

She said that the bigger the Turcot is, the more cars will use it, thus creating more pollution.

Shannon Franssen of the citizens' group Mobilisation Turcot says the new plans don't do enough to protect neighbourhoods in Montreal's Southwest borough.

She also said that a promise to keep the part of the Turcot that runs through Côte-St-Paul in the Southwest borough off the ground was absent from today’s mock-ups of the interchange.

"They’re using the right words, but the plans are still the same," she said.

Measures to curb corruption

Jean-François Lisée, the minister responsible for Montreal, said that provisions in Bill 1 will help protect the Turcot project from construction industry corruption.

"The companies must have, on their board or [among] their managers, no one who was convicted or accused of fraud," he said.

"If you have these people then you have to get rid of them, or if you don’t, then you cannot bid."

Marois also said the government would put a spending cap on the Turcot project, and that a group of independent experts would review costs.

"Turcot will be in compliance with laws and rules this government has adopted to ensure integrity in the awarding of public contracts," Marois said.

"All the companies invited to work on the project will have to get an authorization from the Autorité des marchés financiers before signing any contract worth more than $40 million. This project will be closely scrutinized and no exceptions will be made."

Work to replace the Turcot interchange is scheduled to begin in 2015.