November 25, 2018
Montreal has removed their divisive elevated urban highway to connect community and create a space for people—why can't Buffalo?
As Montreal prepared to host the Expo ’67 World’s Fair, the city amped up its infrastructure with the construction of both their Metro System and the elevated Bonaventure Expressway, which allowed visitors and city inhabitants to by-pass the factory-filled Griffintown when traveling downtown. Only the Metro remains today, thanks to the recent removal of the urban highway to reconnect the city and attempt to mitigate the damage caused in the neighborhoods by the highway barrier.
In addition to being an eyesore, the highway was attributed to causing further degradation to the Griffintown neighborhood, thus Montreal began planning removal of the 11-lane expressway in the 2000s. In 2016, tear-down of the elevated highway began, with plans to replace it with two at-ground urban boulevard and dedicated bus-transit routes. The newly created green space now includes urban street furniture, a dog park, ping-pong tables, an exercise area, a play area for kids and two monumental works of art. The $141.7-million CAD project was completed in September of 2017. More than 47,000 tonnes of concrete was removed for the project and more than 300 trees were planted.
Project planners tout the success of the project, noting it has, “rewoven the urban fabric between two neighborhoods that were once isolated from each other.” Buffalo Rising covered the removal recently and makes the observation:
“It just goes to show that with the right inventive and sensitive planning, cities can create thoroughfares that its residents can actually interact with, and be proud of. In Buffalo, opportunities abound, along our waterfront, through our park system, right down to downtown’s core. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the City of Buffalo took this type of transportation planning seriously, instead of continuing to make the same mistakes over and over?”
Read City Lab's full article on the project—The Unconventional Beauty of Montreal’s New Bonaventure Expressway and Buffalo Rising's Montreal Reimagines the Urban Boulevard.