Bonaventur­e comes down soon

Phase 1 of plan to ex­tend down­town to water­front could start by spring


The Bonaventur­e Ex­press­way’s days as a ves­tige of 1960s car-cen­tric, el­e­vated road de­sign are num­bered.

The So­ciété du Havre de Mon­tréal, the agency over­see­ing a 20-year project to redo the Montreal har­bourfront, is cross­ing the T’s on its fi­nal plan to raze the por­tion of the ex­press­way that feeds into the down­town core and in its place launch a neigh­bour­hood ur­ban re­newal project that would ex­tend down­town to­ward the water­front.

It’s Phase 1 of a three-phase project planned since 2004 for the ex­press­way, which is one of three ap­proaches to Montreal from the Cham­plain Bridge, the busiest in Canada.

De­pend­ing on how smoothly things go from here, the shov­els could be in the ground this spring for Phase 1, So­ciété pres­i­dent and CEO Gaë­tan Rainville re­vealed in an in­ter­view yes­ter­day.

The sec­ond and third phases of the project would cover the area be­tween the La­chine Canal and the Cham­plain Bridge.

“We’re just a cou­ple of days or a cou­ple of weeks at most from tabling our fi­nal re­port (on Phase 1) to the city of Montreal so the city can make a fi­nal de­ci­sion,” he said. “This is the fi­nal step be­fore pre­par­ing the plans and spec­i­fi­ca­tions.”

The pro­jected fin­ish date for the first phase, cov­er­ing the area be­tween down­town and the La­chine Canal, is 2012, he said.

The agency will rec­om­mend in its re­port that the city hold pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions on the plan as soon as pos­si­ble, he added.

The project de­tails Rainville shared are new and cap five years of stud­ies on ev­ery­thing from pedes­trian safety to the state of the wa­ter and sewer pipes un­der streets in the sec­tor.

The first phase would level the Bonaventur­e be­tween Bren­nan and Notre Dame Sts.

Mean­while, the two streets run­ning on ei­ther side of the ex­press­way – Nazareth and Duke Sts. – would be widened to four lanes from three to ac­com­mo­date traf­fic cross­ing the river.

As well, with the struc­ture re­moved, the area un­der­neath would be built into blocks of com­mer­cial, res­i­den­tial and of­fice build­ings and pos­si­bly a ho­tel, Rainville said. The area would be pedes­trian-friendly, with wide side­walks and green spa­ces, he said. A pub­lic square is planned be­tween Ottawa and William Sts.

One par­cel of land to be freed up near the water­front would be fash­ioned into a wel­come point to the city, with green space and a work of art, Rainville said.

But a ded­i­cated pub­lic tran­sit bus corridor planned for Dal­housie St., west of the CN rail­way over­pass, is rais­ing hack­les.

The street would be­come the route for about 1,400 South Shore buses a day that cross the Cham­plain Bridge dur­ing morn­ing and evening rush hour.

It would send a car­a­van of buses past the New City Gas Com­pany build­ing at 956 Ottawa St., at the cor­ner of Dal­housie. Built in 1859, it’s one of the city’s old­est sur­viv­ing fac­tory build­ings.

Build­ing owner Har­vey Lev told The Gazette he was never con­tacted about the bus corridor.

His build­ing is at the east­ern limit of De­vimco Inc.’s $1.3-bil­lion Griffin­town re­de­vel­op­ment, the fu­ture of which is now be­ing re-ex­am­ined be­cause of the in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

Rainville said the So­ciété du Havre ap­proached De­vimco about the bus corridor since it had an of­fer to pur­chase the New City Gas Com­pany build­ing from Lev up un­til De­cem­ber.

Her­itage Montreal pro­gram di­rec­tor Dinu Bum­baru, who was shown a sketch of Phase 1 last fall, said he’s cau­tiously op­ti­mistic about the over­all project, but said the bus corridor doesn’t re­spect the her­itage as­pect of the vicin­ity. “It’s go­ing to iso­late the area,” he said.

Rainville said he’s also heard com­plaints from some condo own­ers in the area, but said the corridor is nec­es­sary to pre­vent bus traf­fic from clog­ging the widened Nazareth and Duke.

The plan calls for Dal­housie, which ends be­low Ottawa St., to be ex­tended south by bur­row­ing through the CN rail­way over­pass, Rainville said.

The route would run through de­vel­oper Roland Hakim’s build­ing at 930 Welling­ton St. The city has plans to ex­pro­pri­ate the build­ing, which jeop­ar­dizes Hakim’s own plans to build two tow­ers on the site, he said.

The pro­jected cost of Phase 1 will be higher than the $90 mil­lion es­ti­mate pre­sented in 2004, Rainville said. He said he wouldn’t re­veal the fig­ure un­til the city gets the fi­nal re­port.

Fac­tors such as soil de­con­tam­i­na­tion weren’t counted in the first es­ti­mate, he said.



The first phase of the pro­ject would de­mol­ish the Bon­aven­ture Ex­press­way be­tween Brennan and Notre Dame Sts.

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