Feds make good on promise to help cover budget overrun
Peter Black (QCT) /
Peter Black, Local Journalism Initiative reporter
A deal reached last week ensures 40 per cent of the expected increased cost of Quebec City’s tramway system will be covered by the federal government.
The Quebec government had until midnight March 31 to submit a list of major infrastructure projects to Ottawa to be eligible for a pot of $2.7 billion in extra funding on offer. The Quebec tramway is among those projects.
Federal Intergovernmental Affairs and Infrastructure Minister Dominic LeBlanc tweeted the news of the deal, saying “dozens of communities across Quebec will benefit from this collaboration.” He also thanked his Quebec counterpart Jonatan Julien for his efforts in forging the pact.
The agreement is the follow-up to a meeting in December between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier François Legault where they discussed sharing tramway cost overruns.
The extra federal amount would be added to the $1.2 billion in federal funding already committed to what was budgeted in 2018 as a $3.3 billion project. Since then, with various delays and inflation, the cost has increased by at least $500 million, according to media reports.
Mayor Bruno Marchand, travelling in Europe when the deal was reached, told reporters he never doubted the deal would be reached. “Some doubted, some were afraid, some threw in the towel. It’s not my style, I trusted the people who represented us,” the mayor said, in an obvious reference to opposition leader Claude Villeneuve.
Extra funding or not, a major tramway-related project is proceeding as of April in the Ave. Lavigerie area near the approach to the bridges and where the tramway will head north and west from Boul. Laurier.
In a March 24 release, Coun. Maude Mercier-Larouche, the executive committee member responsible for promoting the tramway, said, “These works are part of an ambitious development vision for the sector, near the entrance to the city, which will accommodate the tramway and the public transport interconnection with the South Shore. This represents a unique opportunity to rethink the space, to infuse it with a boost of dynamism by creating public facilities on a human scale.”
The project involves the addition of two traffic lanes, widened sidewalks, surface and landscaping facilities, street furniture and planting vegetation. The work is expected to take 10 weeks and “access to traffic and parking will be maintained during this period.”
The Ave. Lavigerie tramway-related project will be done in co-ordination with a vast redevelopment of the entry to the city from the two bridges. According to a Journal de Québec report on a briefing by ministry of transport officials, the aim is to reduce traffic jams in the “spaghetti” network of roads and to make the entrance greener and more accessible to the public.
The two associated projects are also aimed at facilitating the connection between public transit buses from Lévis and the future Quebec City tramway.
This image shows how Boul. Laurier will be transformed with the implementation of the tramway. Work begins soon on Ave. Lavigerie where the tramway will exit the major artery.