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2006 02 02
The Turcot Yards to the Turcot Interchange 2
A short history and the creation of a temple for the automobile

By Doug Scholes


The Turcot round house was in use until the mid 1960’s when the popularity of the automobile increased, which in turn caused the decline of goods transported by rail. As well, Montreal was preparing for the World Exposition in 1967 and was beginning to put into place the necessary infrastructures such as transportation and communication networks that would present the city as an urban model of the future. The Turcot round house was finally demolished in the early 1960’s to make way for the Turcot Interchange, part of the system of autoroutes that would allow automobile traffic to move freely and unimpeded through and around the city. The Turcot yards were in use until 2002 as a transfer yard, a place where containers are on- and off-loaded between road and rail transport vehicles. By 2003, the yard was stripped of all the tracks, and the administration and holding buildings were demolished, leaving the space empty - an erased record with very little evidence of its industrial and natural past.

The land now has a different use, at least part of it does. The larger section that stretches west of St-Henri has remained (as of Jan. 2006) a blank slate that awaits future development to give it identity, to give it a visual profile. At the east end (closest to St-Henri) stands the Stonehenge-like structure that ties together the concrete and asphalt arteries of autoroutes 20, Decarie, and 720. Technically known as the Turcot Interchange and dubbed the spaghetti junction, this mass of twisted roadways is the complicated solution to keep cars and trucks moving smoothly through the convergence of three major autoroutes. It was seen as a way of the future, and in particular, the means by which automobiles and communities could co-exist. Suspending a road on pillars was seen as a win-win situation: allowing traffic unimpeded movement through densely developed areas and allowing the community below the raised roadway to exist (with minimal changes) as it had previously done.
[email this story] Posted by Alexandra McIntosh on 02/02 at 05:35 AM

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