Autoroute 30

Sanity for Québec commuters

If you are a commuter, you know exactly what it’s like to have to sit in your vehicle for sometimes hours, waiting to get home. It doesn’t matter whether traffic is caused by accident or just plain congestion; there is little else more aggravating than wanting to be somewhere but being stalled inside your car.

You can imagine the excitement, then, of those 3.3 million Montreal citizens who first heard the news about completing the Autoroute 30 project, allowing drivers to circumvent the busyness of Montreal. The new Autoroute 30 is a 55-kilometre alternative route to relieve congestion via a southern bypass road.
As one of the largest projects in Québec, the Autoroute 30 project represents an investment of $1.5 billion (2008) for the western section of the road (constructed as a 35-year, public-private partnership) and $325 million (2008) for the eastern section (constructed by the Ministère des Transports du Québec).

The project is well timed. An analysis submitted in March 1995 revealed that by 2016, the existing east-west highway, Autoroute Métropolitaine (A-40), will not be able to handle all new passenger and freight transportation needs.

More about the project

The highway has already been partially constructed with various segments completed as early as 1968. The western section that forms this project extends from Vaudreuil-Dorion to Châteauguay and includes a section that connects to Salaberry-de-Valleyfield. A 13-kilometre eastern section, south of Candiac, Delson and Saint-Constant, is currently being completed under a traditional contract by the Ministère. New construction will join all of the segments into one continuous route, consolidating highways 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, and 540.

Some of the more interesting elements of the construction include two important bridges. One of them is 1,860 metres long over the St. Lawrence River and the other is 2,550 metres long over the Beauharnois Canal. Other projected structural features include overpasses, underpasses, a tunnel of 72 metres under Soulanges Canal, and more than 12 junctions with other freeways and roads.

Economic stimulus

In addition to convenience—which is reason enough for the project—the completion of Autoroute 30 also brings economic benefits to the picture. By ensuring the smooth flow of goods to and from the Greater Montréal area or across its east-west axis, the highway fosters local competitiveness.

According to Jacques Filion, director of Autoroute 30 at the Ministère des Transports, the project will promote investment in surrounding industrial parks.  “Aside from the benefit of 18,900 direct and indirect jobs during construction, it is estimated that the highway could bring in over $8 billion in investment over a 30-year period,” he says.

Manufacturing accounts for a large part of the area’s economic base. Manufacturers’ shipments from the Greater Montréal area account for nearly 85 per cent of the total exports of manufactured goods by value to Québec.

Autoroute 30 was originally intended to link a number of sub-regions in the Montérégie region. Its completion is deemed to be an essential component of the economic and social development of the south-western portion of the Montérégie region. Moreover, it would make possible the creation of a link between its development centres and other centres in the Greater Montréal area.

Why bring in a public-private partnership?

For those unfamiliar with P3 projects, they involve a contract between a public sector authority and a private party, in which the private party provides a public project and assumes substantial financial, technical and operational risk in the project. The underlying logic for establishing partnerships is that both the public and the private sector have unique characteristics that provide them with advantages in specific aspects of service or project delivery.

The most successful partnership arrangements draw on the strengths of both the public and private sector to establish complementary relationships.

For the new Autoroute 30, the P3 will ensure that the work is done on schedule and without any cost overruns. This approach will provide the best value for the Québécois; it is a proven formula when it comes to ensuring due diligence, keeping on schedule and generating savings.

Autoroute 30’s website states: “The private partner, Nouvelle Autoroute 30, is responsible for deadlines and budgets, and Ministère des Transports is protected by the contract. All additional expenses will be paid by Nouvelle Autoroute 30, and if we do not finish on time, a penalty will be deducted from the amount we receive from the ministry. Risk transfer is one of the advantages of P3s.”

“We are committed to staying on budget and on schedule,” affirms Denis Leonard, an engineer and project manager for the P3. “We have built a lot of big projects of this size, and even bigger ones around the world. We know exactly what this entails and what we are doing. The challenge is the quantity involved in subcontractors, because everyone has to mobilise at the same time. To that point, everything is going very well!”

Down the road

“The new Autoroute 30 is a big change for the citizens of the region,” Leonard continues. “In every area of the country when we put a new highway in the region, it has dramatic economic impacts for the people. We have a full collaboration from all the municipalities and we have a strong feeling from them that this is really positive in every aspect. We have a great team.”

By providing the geographic and economic link to the Greater Montreal Area, the new Autoroute 30 is destined to pave the way for a bright future.