(Quebec) Despite repeated attempts by the opposition, Geneviève Guilbault refused to disclose the cost of the tunnel project reserved for public transit. The Minister of Transport also did not specify the contours of the new CAQ commitment, saying that everything is on the table, even the possibility of running a metro there.
The Minister of Transport was hounded Tuesday by the opposition on the decision of the Legault government to abandon its commitment to dig an under-river highway tunnel linking Quebec to Lévis, but especially on the new caquiste commitment to deliver a third link 100% devoted to public transport.
During the study of the budgetary appropriations of her ministry, Geneviève Guilbault indicated that she had not communicated the cost estimates of a new project during her meeting with the Prime Minister on April 5. “From memory, I don’t think so,” she said in response to the supportive MP for Taschereau, Étienne Grandmont. “I’m pretty sure we haven’t discussed the other scenarios,” she added.
However, the Legault government has made this new project as firm a commitment as that of building a motorway link. The Prime Minister revealed last week that he was unaware of the estimated cost of the new transit tunnel project.
A study carried out by the Union des rives consortium makes a summary estimate of four project options, including that of a tunnel reserved for public transport. The study was made public last week, except that the costs per scenario are redacted.
The only financial data that was sent to François Legault is the latest estimate of the cost of the project promised in the campaign, a twin-tube tunnel, explained the minister. “We discussed together […] that, at the moment, if we maintained the twin tube […], we were around 9.5 to 10 billion”, explained Ms. Guilbault.
The discussion was essentially aimed at informing Mr. Legault of the new data on travel times and post-pandemic ridership, argued the minister. She wouldn’t say if she made a final recommendation, just saying “ultimately the decision was made” by the prime minister.
Ms. Guilbault again defended the Legault government’s decision not to disclose the estimated costs of the new CAQ commitment on the pretext that these estimates are too preliminary. “It’s not to hide, it’s not a conspiracy, a scheme […]. It wouldn’t be responsible at this point to give those numbers,” she repeated.
She also argued that these assessments “are bound to change anyway, while we work on the project” and that the scenarios studied “will not happen because we have tightened the project for a public transport tunnel. “. However, in the four options evaluated, there is indeed the scenario of a public transport tunnel, city center to city center.
Minister Guilbault was unable to specify the outlines of the future project, saying that studies are to come. “Anything is possible in the tunnel,” she said. “We have to take the time to analyze it and we will choose what is more adequate, profitable, structuring for our two regions,” added the minister, revealing that the details of the new commitment were not discussed with the first minister.
Ms. Guilbault also indicated that the route of the project remains to be determined, as does the means of public transport that will be chosen. She mentioned, like Mr. Legault last week, electric buses, a tram, a REM and even a metro. “The metro is indeed part of the possibilities of what can pass through the tunnel,” she pointed out without specifying her preference.