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A30 Ring Road to Get Real

MONTREAL, Que. - You might not want to bet your first-born, clutch or logbook on it, but it really seems that this time the provincial and federal governments are going to push Montreal's Autoroute 30...

MONTREAL, Que. – You might not want to bet your first-born, clutch or logbook on it, but it really seems that this time the provincial and federal governments are going to push Montreal’s Autoroute 30 ring road through to completion.

For those who don’t do the Montreal grind – the massive volumes of east-west traffic passing through Quebec mix it up with about a million local vehicles a day.

They do so across two bridges onto the island of Montreal from the west, two major roads crossing the island and four bridges of significance and a tunnel off the Island heading eastward.

A major victim of this traffic, the Champlain Bridge, had 4.5 million trucks use it in 2002, compared to less than two million in 1992.

The A30 would divert through traffic away from the island at Vaudreuil-Dorion (a town just before the island’s west end) south across the St. Lawrence, then east along the South Shore to the A15 south to New York State or the A10, A20 and the existing section of the A30 heading toward pointing east.

Thirty years of inaction and broken promises have made skeptics of the locals, but this September, politicians reassured the province that the ring road was back on track.

A look at the A30

This is what the A30 looks like today: A long stretch of A30 runs from Sorel, well east of Montreal, westward to where it crosses the north-south running A15, which carries Montreal traffic to New York State.

At the A15 the A30 disappears and traffic dipsy-doodles along five kilometres of stop-and-start Highway 132 between Delson and Sainte-Catherine.

Admire the view across maybe two kilometres of the St-Lawrence.

This is roughly where, sometime around the time Neil Armstrong hopped from the Eagle onto the moon, a bridge and highway was supposed to take you north to the A20 and for a fast boogie to Ottawa or Ontario.

This September, Quebec Transport Minister Yvon Marcoux announced the seven-kilometre section of the A30 that will be paid for out of the provincial purse will be built just south of the 132 between Delson and Sainte-Catherine, joining the A15 to that 13-kilometre stretch of the A30 in the cornfields.

According to Sandra Sultana, director of the public-private partnerships office with the Quebec Ministry of Transport, this stretch of the A30 will be built from May 2007 to December 2008.

The rest of the A30, slated for completion by 2009, has two stages of development.

The expropriations between Chateauguay and Salaberry de Valleyfield have already begun and the location of the new highway has been decided.

The other part, the St-Timothe – Vaudreuil-Dorion section, complete with bridge, are not as far advanced.

Marcoux did say though, that in late September a call for tender was put out to define more precisely the preliminary plans for this section and to draw up an expropriation plan.

Furthermore, said Marcoux, by late 2003 or early 2004 the federal and provincial governments will have signed a deal to proceed with the project.

Private partner sought

The objective is to have a private partner design, build, operate and finance the project under a 30-35-year partnership.

The word is that the A30 will be a toll road, since private sector involvement is mentioned constantly.

“It will have private sector involvement. One way or another they will be in there,” says an Infrastructure Canada official. The word is the same from the provincial level.

“It is a big possibility that there will be a toll road,” says Sultana.

A Doubting Thomas may wonder why, if the project is so sure-fire, no dollar amounts have been announced by the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund, from which the federal dollars are to come.

“No particular amount has been announced yet because we are still waiting to see what the private sector contribution will be,” explains the Infrastructure Canada official.

More reassurance that the project is more than a flavour of the month can be found at the Federal Bridge Corporation Limited (FBCL), which is responsible for major bridges in Montreal and Ontario, and which will be involved in the A30 bridge work.

“The federal and provincial governments are working together and are finalizing the agreements about the public-private partnerships,” says the FBCL’s Andre Girard.

“We are following every step to make sure they are progressing. We are very happy with the progress they are making and we are making the commitment that Highway 30 is a priority for all parties.”

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