Westmount taking Transports Québec to court over noisy Turcot Interchange

The City of Westmount is asking Quebec's Superior Court to issue a stop-work order on the multi-billion dollar project, arguing revised plans will result in too much noise for its residents.

City wants stop-work order on project, says revised plans will result in unhealthy, illegal noise levels

Westmount says Transports Québec didn't consult with the city when plans were revised for the Turcot Interchange reconstruction. It contends once built, the new configuration will cause too much noise for surrounding areas. (Charles Contant/CBC)

The City of Westmount is asking Quebec's Superior Court to issue a stop-work order on the multi-billion dollar Turcot Interchange construction project, arguing a change in the plan will result in illegal and unhealthy noise levels for its residents.

A city official says Transports Québec (MTQ) failed to consult with Westmount when it unilaterally revised plans for the placement of Highway 136, the thoroughfare that is replacing Highway 720. 

The Transport Ministry's initial submission in 2008 showed a roadway that would be lowered, helping to shield nearby residences from the cacophony of the 300,000 vehicles expected to travel on Highway 136 every day. 

With the 2015 revision, the level of the new highway is roughly the same as the now-demolished structure that it is replacing.

Westmount contends as a result of that revision, noise levels will be in excess of those allowed by the Environment Quality Act.

The act states sound levels exceeding 65 decibels risk causing significant health issues, including sleep deprivation, depression and increased blood pressure.

"As per the actual project, the noise levels will be exceeding the standards of the ministry and causing a major inconvenience to our residents by the highway," said Benoit Hurtubise, Westmount's director general.

Westmount asks minister to intervene

"It is inconceivable that the MTQ has modified, without any authorization … and without consideration of the environmental impact that this could cause," said Westmount officials in a news release. 

The city says rather than go to court, it would prefer Transports Québec take measures to reduce the noise, at its own cost.

In a letter sent to Transport Minister André Fortin Jan. 29, it asked Fortin to step in personally to resolve the situation.

MTQ spokesperson Sarah Bensadoun said she could not comment on the ongoing legal matter but that the ministry does plan to add extra noise barriers along Highway 136.  She could not say by how much the barriers would reduce the sound of passing vehicles.

Project plagued by noise complaints

Noise from the massive construction site has been disturbing the project's neighbours since construction began in earnest in 2016.

Some psychologists have even warned exposure to the multi-year construction project could lead to depression and anxiety for those living nearby.

The ministry set up a website specifically to track and publicize noise levels.