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Eastern REM | CDPQ Infra unveils its “greatly improved” project

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After 15 months of work, a wave of protests and several modifications made to the initial project, CDPQ Infra presented the first images of its “greatly improved” Eastern REM on Tuesday. The group believes that it has “pushed” its architectural efforts to the maximum, but warns that “all stakeholders” will have to give their approval for the 10 billion network to see the light of day.

“We don’t push projects, we’re here to propose projects,” summarizes Jean-Marc Arbaud, President and CEO of CDPQ Infra. “For them to happen, the partners have to be aligned. »


PHOTO MARCO CAMPANOZZI, PRESS ARCHIVES

Jean-Marc Arbaud, President and CEO of CDPQ Infra

Many Montrealers expressed their deep concern after the announcement of the second phase of the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) in December 2020. They fear that this 32-kilometre automated metro system, planned in large part on high structures, disfigures several neighborhoods.

Mr. Arbaud believes that the work done by his teams and the architectural firm Lemay should meet the main expectations. He says he is “proud” of the project presented on Tuesday and admits lip service that the many critics have helped to “optimize” it.

Concrete and catenaries

CDPQ Infra affirms that many efforts have been made to refine the structure of the REM de l’Est, including the fact that the deck will be 9 meters wide, compared to 11 meters in the first phase.

  • CDPQ Infra confirms that many efforts have been made to refine the structure of the REM de l'Est.  Above, the structure seen from René-Lévesque Boulevard, downtown.

    ILLUSTRATION PROVIDED BY CDPQ INFRA

    CDPQ Infra confirms that many efforts have been made to refine the structure of the REM de l’Est. Above, the structure seen from René-Lévesque Boulevard, downtown.

  • CDPQ Infra estimates that at least 70,000 homes could be built around the future stations, including around the Coutre underground station.

    ILLUSTRATION PROVIDED BY CDPQ INFRA

    CDPQ Infra estimates that at least 70,000 homes could be built around the future stations, including around the Coutre underground station.

  • The catenaries will be integrated into rounded arches forming a continuation of the “shell” of the deck.  Above, a view of the route along Notre-Dame.

    ILLUSTRATION PROVIDED BY CDPQ INFRA

    The catenaries will be integrated into rounded arches forming a continuation of the “shell” of the deck. Above, a view of the route along Notre-Dame.

  • The deck will be 9 meters wide, compared to 11 meters in the first phase.  The support pylons will be “V-shaped” and spaced 40 to 50 meters apart.  Above, the future Saint-Jean-Baptiste station.

    ILLUSTRATION PROVIDED BY CDPQ INFRA

    The deck will be 9 meters wide, compared to 11 meters in the first phase. The support pylons will be “V-shaped” and spaced 40 to 50 meters apart. Above, the future Saint-Jean-Baptiste station.

  • CDPQ believes that the integrity of Parc Morgan, above, will be preserved despite the passage of the REM de l'Est.

    ILLUSTRATION PROVIDED BY CDPQ INFRA

    CDPQ believes that the integrity of Parc Morgan, above, will be preserved despite the passage of the REM de l’Est.

  • The Lemay architectural firm is proposing a belvedere above the hopper, where the REM will switch from underground mode to aerial mode, in the Quartier des spectacles.

    ILLUSTRATION BY JULIEN LAUZON, PROVIDED BY CDPQ INFRA

    The Lemay architectural firm is proposing a belvedere above the hopper, where the REM will switch from underground mode to aerial mode, in the Quartier des spectacles.

  • St-Urbain station, at the gates of Chinatown, is planned on the site of an abandoned parking lot.

    ILLUSTRATION PROVIDED BY CDPQ INFRA

    St-Urbain station, at the gates of Chinatown, is planned on the site of an abandoned parking lot.

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Concrete will always occupy a central place, but Christian Ducharme, vice-president, engineering, at CDPQ Infra, fully defends this choice. “People generally think that steel is lighter and therefore more attractive for a structure like this. The reality is totally different. In reality, the volume of a concrete structure is smaller than what we would have in steel. »

The use of concrete will also make it possible to better absorb sound, according to the engineer, who affirms that a steel structure would rather “tend to act as a sounding board”.

Semi-opaque “noise-reducing” walls, four meters high, will have to be integrated into the structure downtown to meet provincial regulations.

Also, the support pylons will be “V-shaped” and spaced 40 to 50 meters apart. The concrete will be white in color and covered with a coating that will make it easier to remove graffiti. Most of the structural elements can be prefabricated, which will reduce the duration of construction sites and nuisances for the neighborhood, says Mr. Ducharme. He also believes that he is providing an acceptable solution to the problem of catenaries.

More discreet, the catenaries of the REM de l’Est will be integrated into rounded arches forming a continuation of the “shell” of the deck. The top of these arches will be located at a height of 19 to 23 meters from street level, the equivalent of a 6 or 7 storey building.

René-Lévesque “converted”, but the City will pay

Downtown, CDPQ Infra plans to build a wide pedestrian promenade that would stretch over eight kilometers between Bleury and Notre-Dame, then over another eight kilometers to the east, between Pointe-aux-Trembles and Montreal East. An observation bridge is also planned where the electric train will emerge from a short tunnel to migrate in aerial mode, in the Quartier des spectacles.

“We want to make it a belvedere over the city, with plants and paths, integrated furniture, which will allow accessibility for all”, indicates Patricia Lussier, landscape architect at the firm Lemay, main “conductor” from the Eastern REM.

Thus, René-Lévesque Boulevard would be considerably modified by the arrival of the REM.


PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Christian Ducharme, Vice-President, Engineering, at CDPQ Infra

We are going to transform four car lanes into a public space, which will be exclusively for people on foot and by bike.

Christian Ducharme, Vice-President, Engineering, at CDPQ Infra

CDPQ Infra is also proposing to implement a 24 km bicycle network on the “entire network” of the REM, ie 16 km that would be “new” and 8 others from the existing Express Bike Network (REV). With all due respect to the mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante, CDPQ Infra will not however pay for these developments. “What is included in the project is the transport system. Then, the promenade and urban development will be the responsibility of the City of Montreal,” said Mr. Ducharme.

At the beginning of February, Mayor Plante had strongly deplored that the “sums necessary to ensure good urban integration”, or approximately 1 billion, had still not been confirmed by Quebec. Since then, the Legault government has said it is ready to add “significant sums” to the project, but CDPQ Infra still does not know if Quebec’s contribution will be increased.

Jean-Marc Arbaud, he again defended himself on Tuesday for not having sufficiently involved the City of Montreal, hammering to have “held more than 140 meetings” with its representatives in the last year. The architect Patricia Lussier affirms that her group carried out “exhaustive work” to “understand and analyze the environments in which we fit”. A dozen distinct territories have been combed through; their built environment, the heritage buildings found there and the “sensitive places” have been documented.


IMAGE PROVIDED BY CDPQ INFRA

The route of the REM de l’Est project

A connection or not to the green line?

The committee of experts mandated by Québec and CDPQ Infra to ensure the architectural integration of the Eastern REM filed a fairly critical progress report last week The Press reported on Tuesday. Jean-Marc Arbaud estimates that “80% of the points” raised in the report have been “addressed”.

But some points remain “not covered”, he acknowledges, including the lack of connection with the green line of the metro. This intersection was abolished due to the relocation of a four-kilometre aerial portion, from Sherbrooke Street to Souligny, after citizen pressure.

“If we go to Souligny, we cannot connect to the green line. And if we go north, we can, but with advantages and disadvantages,” slipped Mr. Arbaud.

It’s always a choice. But the green line, basically, it’s saturated or it will be.

Jean-Marc Arbaud, President and CEO of CDPQ Infra

Officially, CDPQ Infra ensures, however, that no decision has been made on this subject. The group maintains that it will also respond to the committee’s request to have other architectural firms involved in the project, “but under the aegis” of its main supplier, Lemay. “It’s important to keep a conductor. We can’t start having an architectural competition at each station,” said Mr. Ducharme.

Between now and a possible first shovelful of ground, the REM de l’Est will still have to go through several stages. CDPQ Infra will have to come to an agreement with the Autorité régionale de transport métropolitain and Québec to set the financial agreement, and submit its project to the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement. A virtual presentation will be made Thursday at 6 p.m. by Jean-Marc Arbaud’s group.

The latter refuses for the moment to confirm whether entry into service in 2029 is still possible. Does he have any hope of rallying a majority behind the REM? ” It depends on the days. Ask me the question again in a week, ”he concludes.

Learn more

  • 70,000
    Number of housing units that could be developed around the CDPQ Infra project. A “conservative” internal study that has just been carried out confirms this.

    cdpq infrastructure

    Each of the 23 stations will have a unique architecture, unlike the first phase of the REM, where a similar aesthetic was reused in most stations.

    cdpq infrastructure

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