Expressway tied up by city hall

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MONTREAL, Que. — The City of Montreal is jockeying for position with the Quebec government in the hopes of blocking development of a $263-million expressway through east-end Montreal.

The 30-year project to “modernize” Notre Dame St. E. is may finally be in the home stretch — the Bureau des Audiences Public sur l’Environnement are slated to begin Monday — but Mayor Gerald Tremblay’s councillor responsible for transportation, Claude Dauphin, has a few problems with the project.

“The fundamental question is ‘Do we want another Decarie Boulevard?’ Most of the countries of the world are getting rid of their highways and are thinking of other ways of doing things,” saye Dauphin, councillor for Lachine.

Dauphin says he doesn’t know if the city has the power to block the project unilaterally. But politically it would be difficult for Quebec’s Transport Minister Guy Chevrette to go ahead with it, Dauphin adds, as it would require the municipality’s co-operation to get zoning changes and permits for the necessary infrastructure work.

Transport ministry spokesman Maria Soteriades says Tremblay is welcome to present a brief to the environmental hearings, but ultimately it would be up to the provincial cabinet to decide, pending the outcome of the hearings.

She stressed it was the best project that the transport department could present to alleviate the traffic, noise and pollution plaguing the eastern neighborhoods of Centre-Sud, Hochelaga Maisonneuve and Mercier.

If approved, construction will start in 2002-03 and be completed by 2005-06 and include prohibiting trucks on local arteries, like Dickson, Viau and Frontenac Sts. A coalition in favor of the expressway argues the project would revitalize the area for businesses and residents.

Notre Dame would be able to handle more traffic so trucks and cars would no longer detour through residential neighborhoods, says Michel Lesage, president of the Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie de l’Est de Montreal.

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