Goodbye grade crossings: new infrastructures coming with the REM
Work has begun to convert the Deux-Montagnes train line to the REM. The arrival of the REM will mean changes in the landscape. This is a closer look at one of the upcoming changes: the elimination of level crossings and the construction of viaducts.
What is a level crossing?
Transport Canada defines a grade crossing as “an intersection where a road, sidewalk, path or trail crosses railway tracks.”
There are level crossings at 17 locations along the REM route, between Deux-Montagnes and Saint-Laurent. When the old train for the Deux-Montagnes line went through one of these locations, the road, pedestrian and bicycle traffic was interrupted.
What will happen to the level crossings along the old Deux-Montagnes line with the arrival of the REM?
The level crossings will cease to exist once the REM is in service. They will be replaced through the construction of nine new rail or road viaducts and a 1.6-km elevated structure in the Pierrefonds-Roxboro sector.
Because the arrival of a light rail transit system means increased service frequency. The REM will run every 2.5 minutes during peak hours on its central section (between Bois-Franc and Brossard stations) and every 5 minutes on the northern portion of the route (between Deux-Montagnes and Bois-Franc stations). The REM’s service frequency can even be increased up to 1.5 minutes! With this high service frequency, in both directions, it is impractical to think that the REM could cross roadways. Viaducts are therefore being built to allow the REM to run without interruption, for reasons of flow and above all safety.
Benefits of removing level crossings
Increased safety – serious accidents are avoided by eliminating crossings between rail traffic and other types of traffic (road, pedestrian, cyclist)
Greater travel fluidity – today’s road congestion caused by the passing of a train will no longer exist with the REM
Removal of alarm sounds at level crossings, signalling the arrival of a train
What will the REM’s railway viaducts look like?
The REM’s elevated structures have two lanes, one in each direction.
Current situation (Goggle Maps image) and projected situation at O’Brien Boulevard in Saint-Laurent. Shown at the bottom of the image are the components of the elevated structure that will be built in the sector. These same components (bridge deck, retaining wall, column and portal) are installed in all the structures where the level crossings are replaced by a viaduct.
Elevated section in the Pierrefonds-Roxboro sector
The Pierrefonds-Roxboro station is located at the centre of a 1.6-km elevated section that begins east of 11th Avenue and returns to ground level west of des Sources Boulevard. The rapid succession of three overhead structure to replace the level crossings (11th avenue, Gouin Boulevard West, des Sources Boulevard) leads us to build the network as a continuous aerial structure in this portion. This keeps the track at the same height to gain fluidity and to ensure user comfort by avoiding a “roller coaster” effect!
When will the work begin and what are the phases in the construction of the new viaducts?
Work began in certain sectors at the beginning of 2021 and will be continued over the next few months (see details below). Regardless of the sector, the main construction phases are essentially the same:
Relocation of public utilities
Construction of caisson piles
Construction of columns and portals
Construction of retaining walls and restoration of roadway
Bridge deck installation
Installation of tracks and the electrical system
Work details by sector
In the Saint-Laurent and Ahuntsic-Cartierville sector, two level crossings will be converted into railway viaducts: one at O’Brien Boulevard and a second at Toupin Boulevard. For O’Brien Boulevard, mobilization began in early February. This spring, the work will consist in relocating the public utilities and beginning construction of the abutments and approaches to the new viaduct. Obstructions are to be expected, but one lane will be maintained in each direction. Finally, this summer, there will be occasional obstructions in order to install the beams and restore the roadway.
In Pierrefonds-Roxboro, the level crossings on Alexander Street and Sunnybrooke Boulevard will be converted into railway viaducts. The level crossings at 11th Avenue, Gouin Boulevard West and des Sources Boulevard will be eliminated through the construction of a 1.6-kilometre elevated section. This spring, drilling will begin to build the foundations for the 47 columns that will form this elevated structure, for an average of one column every 40 metres!
To assemble the deck of the elevated structure, one of the launching beams that is currently being used to build the REM in the West Island will be relocated to the railway right-of-way in Pierrefonds-Roxboro in 2022.
On Îles-Laval, the existing level crossing on Chemin du Tour will be removed and relocated a little farther north, with the creation of a new road link that will cross under the REM tracks.
In the Sainte-Dorothée sector, the existing railway viaduct on Chemin du Bord-de-l’Eau will be demolished and then rebuilt. The level crossing on Graveline Street will be eliminated. A new link will be built on Des Bois Avenue, which will be extended under the REM tracks to connect to Chemin du Bord-de-l’Eau.
Finally, in Laval-sur-le-Lac, two new railway viaducts will be built to span Les Cèdres Street and Les Érables Street. These railway viaducts will mainly be supported by a plant embankment to mitigate the environmental impact.
In Deux-Montagnes, Du Lac Boulevard will be reconfigured into a road overpass over the REM tracks. The work that has already begun will continue this spring, and installation of the new elevated structure will begin this year.
The railway viaduct on the Chemin d’Oka will be demolished and then rebuilt to ensure its durability for the next 100 years. Demolition is scheduled for February, with reconstruction work beginning later, in the fall of 2021.
The level crossings at Henri-Dunant Street, Deux-Montagnes Boulevard and Industriel Boulevard will be converted into railway viaducts. This work is also scheduled to begin in 2021.