Old Montreal Metro cars could be used to build pedestrian bridge to Mile End

A group from Montreal's Mile End neighbourhood has come up with a proposal for the city's soon-to-be retired metro cars: use them to build a pedestrian bridge connecting the neighbourhood to the nearby Rosemont metro station.

Bridge covered by old metro cars would link the neighbourhood to Rosemont Metro

A conceptual drawing of proposed pedestrian walkway made with recycled STM metro cars connecting Roesmont metro station to Montreal's Mile End nieghbourhood. (L'Oeuf et RESSAC)

A group from Montreal's Mile End neighbourhood has come up with a proposal for the city's soon-to-be retired metro cars: use them to build a pedestrian bridge connecting the neighbourhood to the nearby Rosemont metro station.

As it stands, Mile End is not easy to get to from the metro station. People have to cross busy St-Denis Street, take an overpass over the CP Rail line, and then double back.

The proposed pedestrian walkway would be both a shortcut and a monument to Montreal's public transit heritage.

The main voice behind the project is Beat Richert, a digital communications specialist at new media company Ressac, which is based in Mile End.

"It would look incredibly iconic, and a little bit poetic as well: essentially, the train jumping the train," Richert said in an interview.

'Casual brainstorm'

It would be extremely efficient, catering to thousands of commuters who come from the metro station to the Mile End neighbourhood.- Beat Richert , Mile End resident

​Richert, a father of two young children, has lived and worked in Mile End for 15 years.

He said an ongoing dispute between the city of Montreal and CP about building more level crossings over the rail line has meant long detours for people who want to take the metro to Mile End. 

And he said crossing busy St-Denis street at the Rosemont Metro station is dangerous.

"It's a nightmare," he said. "This intersection is an accident waiting to happen."

Beat Richert, who's lived and worked in Mile End for 15 years, says the idea of a metro car-covered walkway just came to him one day. (Beat Richert)
He said about a year ago the idea of incorporating old metro cars into a pedestrian bridge just popped into his head.

"It was a casual brainstorm. I was looking out the window and it just came to me," Richert said.

He calls it the "Passerelles Des Possibles," or "Walkway of Possibilities"— a nod to the stretch of land near the tracks known as the "Champ des Possibles." 

"It would be a monument -—a declaration of the heritage of Montreal, but with a functionality to recycle the old metro cars," Richert said.

Old metro cars would provide shelter

Richert has teamed up with Mile End architecture firm L'Oeuf to come up with some schematics.

They envisioned a pedestrian bridge that would start with a ramp outside the Rosemont Metro station, gently curve over St-Denis street and the CP Rail line, and descend back down to the corner of de Gaspé and Laos.

The walkway would start at Rosemont metro and curve over St-Denis Street and over the CP rail line. (L'Oeuf and RESSAC)
It would be covered over by hollowed-out metro cars that would provide shelter.

"There would be 8 to 10 wagons, totally emptied, and it would be like a tunnel, with the windows of the metro cars still in place," Richert said.  He said the tunnel would also accommodate bikes.

Growing neighbourhood

"It would be extremely efficient, catering to thousands of commuters who come from the metro station to the Mile End neighbourhood," Richert said.

Mile End is home to tech companies and design firms, including video game giant Ubisoft, which supports this project.

Richert says companies in the neighbourhood expect to create thousands of jobs in the next few years, and they want to make the neighbourhood easier to reach.

He said the exact budget for the proposal hasn't be finalized, but he estimates it would cost at least $3 million.

Last week the STM announced a call for project proposals to give a second life to its first-generation metro cars, known as MR-63s, which are gradually being retired.

Richert says the next step is to crowdfund a feasibility study which would be presented to the city and the STM.

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