The highly anticipated "third link" tunnel project connecting Québec to Lévis is no longer prioritizing car lanes, according to the Journal de Québec and confirmed to MTL Blog by Minister of Transport Geneviève Guilbault's spokesperson Maxime Roy via email.
Guilbault is set to formally announce this shift in focus at a press conference on Thursday, Roy told MTL Blog. Initial plans for the third-link tunnel included three lanes in each direction stacked on top of each other in a two-level setup, with one lane in each direction reserved for electric buses, plus connections to Québec City's forthcoming tramway.
Renderings of the new transit-focused version of the third link have yet to be publicized, but Québec solidaire politicians, who have been calling for public transit to be at the centre of the project, are already celebrating.
QS spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois tweeted his approval of what he termed the CAQ's "retreat" from their initial vision for the third link, calling it "a victory for science and common sense."
He also accused the CAQ of being "stubbornly ideological" in its prior defence of the car lanes.
\u201cLa CAQ s\u2019est ent\u00eat\u00e9e de mani\u00e8re id\u00e9ologique \u00e0 d\u00e9fendre un projet ignorant la science. De notre c\u00f4t\u00e9, nous allons continuer \u00e0 nous battre pour nous assurer que le gouvernement livre le meilleur projet possible pour les gens de la capitale nationale: un projet tourn\u00e9 vers l\u2019avenir.\u201d— Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois (@Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois) 1681911967
According to reporting from the Journal de Québec, recent traffic data shows that car travel times between Quebec and Lévis have decreased such that a highway tunnel may be superfluous, especially considering changing travel habits due to the increase in post-pandemic remote work.
In May 2021, the government anticipated the third link project would be completed within 10 years. It's so far unclear how the changes to the plan will alter this timeline.