Richard Bergeron, city executive committee member responsible for urban planning, has indicated the results of those talks will remain secret for several weeks.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Mayor Gérald Tremblay would say only he hopes to meet with Transport Minister Julie Boulet “as soon as possible” about Turcot.
His comments came after the Conseil régional de l’environnement de Montréal, an environmental coalition, and 30 other groups and individuals called on Montreal to lift the veil. Among those calling for transparency was Sophie Thiébaut, a councillor from Bergeron’s Projet Montréal party and founder of a coalition against the Turcot plan.
“The city of Montreal should not be proceeding on the sly,” said Coralie Deny, head of CRÉ-Montréal, noting the city itself has complained that Quebec was too secretive when it originally drew up its Turcot plan.
The opponents accused Transport Quebec of bypassing discussions with Montreal by submitting its final Turcot plan to the environment department before talks with the city are concluded.
But Quebec denies it has finalized its plan.
On March 24, Transport Quebec submitted its detailed response to the 39 recommendations made by the the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement in November, said Stéphanie Langelier, a Transport Quebec spokesperson.
The environment department, which must OK the plan before construction can begin, is studying that response. Dave Leclerc, a spokesperson for Environment Minister Line Beauchamp, said it’s unclear when the department will complete that analysis.
Langelier said her department’s responses to BAPE don’t constitute the transport department’s final Turcot plan, Langelier said. She said Transport Quebec is working closely with the city to make changes to it. She said there is no deadline for those talks.
Quebec unveiled its Turcot plan in 2007. Construction was to have started last fall.
Built in the mid-1960s, the Turcot – a tangle of highways and access ramps west of downtown Montreal – is close to the end of its useful life. Highways 15 and 20 and the Ville Marie Expressway converge at the Turcot, used by 290,000 vehicles daily.
Critics say Quebec's plan, which had a $1.5-billion price tag, would increase capacity to 320,000 cars, encourage urban sprawl and do nothing to discourage car use.
Among other things, the BAPE said Quebec should scrap plans to expropriate the homes of several hundred St. Henri residents and develop a regional network of reserved transit lanes on highways. It said pollution produced by the road vehicles using Turcot are “of concern.”