The CAQ unveils a new version of the project for the third link between Quebec and Lévis

Levis –

The Legault government now plans to build two tunnels to connect downtown Quebec and Lévis, with lanes reserved for public transit, but only during rush hour.

This new version of the project was confirmed Thursday by Transport Minister François Bonnardel during a press conference in which Prime Minister François Legault did not participate.

So finished the project presented with great fanfare by the CAQ government in May 2021, which provided for a huge two-storey tunnel valued at 10 billion dollars.

This new idea of ​​drilling two smaller tunnels under the St. Lawrence River will save taxpayers about $3 billion, Bonnardel said.

The cost of the project is now estimated at $6.5 billion.

Unlike the previous version, some lanes will be reserved for buses, but not at all times. There will therefore not be a lane reserved exclusively for public transport.

Instead, there will be dynamic lane management so that at least one lane is reserved for buses during peak hours when heavy goods vehicles will not have access to the tunnel.

The Legault government has long been criticized for its inability to produce studies proving the need for a third link in Quebec, the cost of which will be passed on to Quebec taxpayers.

On Thursday, he hinted that by 2036, a total of 36,800 additional intercity trips will be added to traffic that has grown more than 20% in nearly 20 years on the two aging bridges.

The City of Quebec estimates that within a decade, 143,000 vehicles per day will cross the Pierre Laporte bridge, while it was designed for a daily traffic of 90,000 vehicles and registers 126,000 per day.

PROJECT CALLED ‘ABSURD’ AND ‘WASTEFUL’

Quebec Solidarity MP Sol Zanetti, who represents the riding of Jean-Lesage in the Quebec City region, said the Coalition Avenir Québec had “stubbornly persisted” in presenting a project to “extend the highway”.

During a press briefing at the National Assembly, Zanetti called the revised draft third link “ridiculous, harmful, absurd”.

He lamented the abandonment of the “one issue that could have a quarter-thousandth fraction of common sense, which is public transit.”

Liberal environment critic Isabelle Melançon said it was clear Legault was absent “because he must know himself that it doesn’t make any sense.”

“With this ‘electoralist’ project, the government is essentially seeking to ‘save the seat of Éric Caire'”, denounced PQ MP Pascal Bérubé.

In 2018, Caire, who is the current Minister of Cybersecurity and Digital, promised to resign if the CAQ backed down on the third liaison file.

“No deputy will see his re-election worth as much as him,” joked Bérubé.


– This report from The Canadian Press was first published in French on April 14, 2022

Harry D. Gonzalez