Équiterre study: the 3rd link between Lévis and Quebec does not pass the “test climat”

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Équiterre’ study: the 3rd link between Lévis and Quebec does not pass the “test climate”

The third link in the CAQ would be a twin-tube tunnel .

The third highway link in the Quebec region is incompatible with the imperatives of ecological transition and it obtains a score of 24 out of 75 according to the “test climat”, a report published Wednesday morning by Équiterre and the Integrated Research Pole – – Environment, Health and Society (PIRESS) from the University of Sherbrooke.

The Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ) project, which involves the construction of two tunnels between Québec and Lévis, was evaluated according to its compatibility with four ecological transition criteria according to Équiterre: the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions emissions (GHG) and environmental footprint, adaptation and resilience, social justice and other co-benefits, and sound governance.

The report, written by mobility analyst Andréanne Brazeau, under the direction of Annie Chaloux, professor of political science at the University of Sherbrooke, gives a score of 17% for adaptation and resilience, since it would lead to the intensification of urban sprawl, particularly in Lévis.

The author points out that the areas envisaged for the exit of the tunnel in Lévis are around rue Saint-Omer or rue Monseigneur-Bourget. However, these two sectors are currently natural or agricultural environments. They are natural carbon sinks and are useful for groundwater replenishment as well as flood control.

Consequently, the construction of road infrastructures in these sectors would permanently destroy this environment in addition to promoting urban sprawl.

Urban sprawl increases the the need to drive a vehicle since it increases the distances to be covered to carry out daily activities, unlike urban concentration which has the opposite effects.

This development model has been observed for decades in Quebec and, according to the report, the instigators of the third link project did not show any intention of reviewing this way of developing the territory and did not x27;have never expressed an interest in a model that would allow the densification of the sector, whereas for Équiterre, the review of land use planning must be at the heart of any credible and ambitious climate policy.< /p>

Considering that the exit from the third link would be developed in a sparsely urbanized area of ​​Lévis, it is difficult to believe that the project could curb urban sprawl, a phenomenon with major environmental consequences, can we read in the report.< /p>

In the absence of new rules of governance and land use planning, the project would inevitably promote the development of eastern Lévis according to the model observed in decades, the study points out.

Furthermore, the author argues that if the east of Lévis is developed in the same way as the west was around the two bridges of Quebec, the construction of the two tunnels would necessarily lead to an increase in the number of vehicles on the roads, which would promote what is called induced demand, which refers to a vicious circle where vehicles must always be given more space.

In this regard, Andréanne Brazeau quotes in particular Marie-Hélène Vandersmissen, director of the Department of Geography at Laval University, who indicated that the construction of the Pierre-Laporte bridge, which connects the two shores, had generated induced traffic, which has generated urban sprawl through new residential complexes, including in Saint-Jean-Chrysostome, Saint-Nicolas and Charny.

According to the Origin-Destination Survey for the Quebec-Lévis region published in 2019 by the Quebec Ministry of Transport and cited in the Équiterre report, during morning and evening rush hours, three-quarters of vehicles leaving the South Shore come from the west of this territory to go west of Quebec and vice versa for the return.

Considering that the majority of motorists who cross the shore do not currently have eastern Lévis as their origin or destination and considering that the exit from the third link would be developed in a sparsely urbanized area of ​​Lévis, the #x27;author believes that it is hard to believe that the project could curb urban sprawl, on the contrary.

We would also see a loss of natural habitats and increased agricultural land, threatening Quebec's resilience in the context of the climate crisis.

The report points out that the latest version of the project increases road capacity at the expense of public transport and that no information relating to active mobility has been provided by the Government of Quebec, and that in sum the alternatives to the solo car are unconvincing.

The climate test also points out that the removal of lanes dedicated to public transport in the latest version of the third link weakens the criterion of adaptation and resilience to climate hazards, because regardless of their mode of propulsion, personal cars and trucks , whose average dimensions are only increasing, are energy inefficient compared to other modes of transport.

In this regard, the The author refers in particular to the study Driving Down Emissions: Transportation, Land Use, and Climate Change, by the American political organization Transportation for America.

This American study, often cited in the Équiterre report, also supports, with an example, that the expansion of road networks tends to increase traffic rather than decrease it, rather than The electrification of vehicles cannot sufficiently reduce GHG emissions from the transport sector, and that new projects must leave an important place for active transport and public transport in order to meet the imperatives of the ecological transition.

< p class="e-p">The study gives a result of 6 out of 18 regarding the mitigation of GHG emissions and the environmental footprint.

In this part of the #x27;study, the principal researcher tried to determine if the project allowed to take a path compatible with achieving Quebec's climate target of 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050.

She determined that the project would make it difficult to put Quebec on the path to carbon neutrality, not only because of construction-related emissions, but also because the vehicles that would circulate there would not be exclusively zero emissions for several decades. /p>

The report indicates that the third link would increase the use of the car and its environmental footprint, but this hypothetical increase is not quantified, in particular due to the #x27;absence of data provided by the project promoter.

With regard to the GHGs directly emitted by the construction of the project, the study makes a comparison with the repair of the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel, between Montreal and Boucherville. Work on this tunnel emitted 2,051 tons of CO2 equivalent over seven months, according to the Renouveau La Fontaine consortium, which is responsible for the repairs.

As the tunnel between Quebec and Lévis must be completely built and it would be, according to public information dated spring 2022, the longest road tunnel in North America, there is no no doubt that the GHG emissions from carrying out the project would be substantial, wrote Andréanne Brazeau.

The climate test gives a score of 39% for this criterion. The author points out that there is no reason to believe that this project would generate significant economic benefits, given its estimated cost of $6.5 billion, especially since tunnels generally see their cost increase by 35% on average.

According to the study, the prominent place given to the automobile in the project presented by the CAQ will also slow down the improvement of multimodal supply and increase congestion in the Capitale-Nationale region in the long term.

A result of 22% was awarded to the criterion of sound governance. This result is explained by the absence of opportunity and feasibility studies on traffic needs and projections. The report indicates that this situation is criticized by hundreds of specialists and scientists and that it shows a lack of rigor and transparency in the management of this file.

L& #x27;environmental organization presents its hundred-page report as the first-ever environmental analysis of the project, but indicates that this study was based on the limited data available.

In the absence of data provided by the project proponent, this qualitative analysis of the third link was carried out using major consensus principles in terms of ecological transition and taking into account a range of factors. #x27;possible impacts of the project. For the scientific community, the government's studies and analyzes must be made public as soon as possible, indicated Annie Chaloux, associate professor at the University of Sherbrooke and director of PIRESS.

François Legault has often been criticized for not having presented studies to support this project estimated at $6.5 billion.

During his appearance on the show Cinq chefs, unelection,on Radio-Canada, on September 4, the Radio-Canada host asked the outgoing Prime Minister if he could reveal serious studies that support this project, François Legault had indicated that x27;he had some, but that the telecommuting caused by the pandemic made his studies obsolete.

“You have to update your studies. »

— François Legault on the program Cinq chefs, unelection

Last spring, the Coalition avenir Québec argued that by 2036, 36 800 additional trips between shores would worsen traffic, which has increased by more than 20% in nearly 20 years on the two current aging bridges.

The CAQ estimates that in about ten x27;years, 143,000 vehicles per day will cross the Pierre-Laporte bridge, whereas it was designed for a daily flow of 90,000 vehicles and 126,000 are recorded per day.

The current wait time on the Pierre-Laporte Bridge is 20 minutes on average, according to the Ministry of Transport, which calculates that it will climb to 28.2 minutes in 2040 .

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