(Quebec) The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) recommends a tramway for the capital and doubts the need for a third highway link, according to information from several media outlets confirmed by La Presse.

CDPQ Infra must unveil tomorrow its study on mobility in the greater Quebec region, commissioned by the Legault government last November. According to our information, the Fund is even ready to become project manager of the project, the costs of which had exploded, without however becoming operator. This solution is viewed favorably by the government.

In its study, the broad outlines of which were first revealed by Radio-Canada, CDPQ Infra nevertheless recommends returning to the route between Le Gendre and Charlesbourg. This is the route that Régis Labeaume originally proposed in March 2018 when he announced the tramway project. Charlesbourg had since been replaced by D’Estimauville following an intervention by the Legault government.

“What the Caisse de dépôt pour Québec report will demonstrate without a shadow of a doubt is that the main problem with public transportation in Quebec will have been the CAQ,” reacted the leader of the Parti Québécois, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.

He recalls that it was the CAQ which changed the route “for political purposes, thus causing a significant increase in costs and delays”. “According to current information, the CDPQ would return to a project similar to the original route. Which would demonstrate that the City of Quebec had worked well and that the incompetence of the CAQ will have cost us several billion dollars,” adds the leader of the PQ.

CDPQ Infra would recommend going to D’Estimauville in a second phase of the project, and to Lebourgneuf in the third place. The study would also recommend shortening the tram trains, to reduce the size of the tunnel between Upper and Lower Town – and therefore the costs – in addition to saving certain mature trees. The wired power network would also be abandoned in certain denser areas of the capital, thanks to battery power.

The Caisse also analyzed six routes for a possible third link, but would not retain any of them. Traffic between the two banks would not justify the cost of such a work. She notes, however, that a new interives link would improve the economic security of the region, since truck transport currently only passes via the Pierre-Laporte bridge.

It is this aspect that the Minister of Transport chose to retain in a statement on Tuesday. “The CDPQ Infra report underlines that the presence of a single motorway link between the two banks poses an economic security issue,” writes Geneviève Guilbault.

“It is irresponsible to have only one link allowing the transportation of goods in Eastern Quebec. If one day the Pierre-Laporte bridge were to close for a few months, or even a few years, there is no other alternative to Quebec than going through Trois-Rivières or Montreal. It would be a real disaster,” continues the minister in a statement which suggests that the CAQ is not ready to bury this new highway project.

Remember that the Legault government has continued to change its mind on the third link issue. He announced in 2019 that he would favor a third link to the east. A year later, Quebec sided with a city center to city center scenario, at a cost of $10 billion. Then in April 2023, like a thunderclap, the CAQ gave up on a new highway link between the banks, brandishing the absence of data to justify such a project.