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These 2006 photos were taken along the Monteregie Autoroute (A-15) in the area of kilometer-post 49 in La Prairie. There was to be a "directional-Y" interchange with the western terminus of the Richelieu Autoroute (A-6) at this location. Reconstruction work at this location in 2004-2005 removed the wide grassy median that was to be used to connecting ramps to A-6. (Photos by Laura Siggia Anderson.)

FROM LA PRAIRIE TO ST-JEAN-SUR RICHELIEU: In the early 1960s, the Minist�re de la Voirie du Qu�bec (MVQ) proposed a second east-west autoroute through the South Shore suburbs of Montreal and the Monteregie Region. The 55-kilometer (34-mile)-long Richelieu Autoroute, which was to receive the A-6 designation, was to parallel the existing QC 104.

Early in the planning stages, the MVQ purchased rights-of-way for A-6 in La Prairie. Engineers also performed preliminary work on two interchanges:

  • A-15 (Monteregie Autoroute): When the MVQ built A-15 in the mid-1960s, it left a wide grassy median in the area of kilometer-post 49 for a "directional-Y" interchange with A-6. Movements from southbound A-15 to eastbound A-6, and from westbound A-6 to southbound A-15, were to take place in the left lane of southbound A-15.

  • QC 134 (Taschereau Boulevard): The MVQ graded ramps for a proposed partial cloverleaf interchange at this location. It also prepared earthen abutments for two overpasses that were to carry the eastbound and westbound roadways of A-6 over QC 134.

The section of A-6 west of A-35 was canceled prior to 1971, according to a provincial map published by the MVQ. Three important factors likely worked against the construction of the western section of A-6:

  • Traffic from A-6 would have overwhelmed the Champlain Bridge (A-10, A-15, and A-20) and its eastern approaches.

  • A continuous toll-free A-6 likely would have siphoned traffic from nearby A-10 (Eastern Townships Autoroute), which at the time was a toll road operated by the Office des Autoroutes du Qu�bec. As originally designed, A-6 would have paralleled A-10 for roughly 49 kilometers (30 miles) from A-15 east to Farnham.

  • Further development of the A-6 right-of-way through La Prairie and Longueuil would have caused environment damage to the banks of the St.-Jacques River, which A-6 was to parallel.

This 1975 map shows the proposed route of the Richelieu Autoroute (A-6) from the southern tip of the existing Vallee des Forts Autoroute (A-35) east to Farnham. An interchange was planned with QC 227 in Mont-St.-Gregoire. The section of A-6 extending west from A-35 to A-15 appeared to have been canceled by this time. (Map © 1975 Transport Quebec.)

FROM IBERVILLE TO FARNHAM: As the 1970s began, the MVQ continued to press forward on plans for A-6. The shortened A-6 would have stretched approximately 20 kilometers (12 miles), mostly along an abandoned Central Vermont Railway right-of-way from A-35 (Valley des Forts Autoroute) in Iberville east to QC 104 (Farnham Bypass / Route de Contournment) in Farnham. The province acquired the right-of-way in 1939 for potential use as a future road.

In early 1972, the MVQ announced bids for a one-kilometer (1.6-mile)-long segment stretching from QC 104 west to Chemin Lebeau in Farnham; construction began in 1973 on preliminary grading and other work for this segment. The project was put on hold after the 1976 provincial elections, as the newly elected Parti Qu�becois (PQ) formally ended many stillborn autoroute projects including A-6. The PQ diverted most of these funds to develop mass transit.

The Minist�re des Transports du Qu�bec (MTQ) formally canceled the project in 1983, and according to a 1992 interview given by MTQ representative Serge Forest with Granby-based newspaper
La Voix de l'Est, traffic counts likely were too low to justify construction of A-6. Even as it sold some rights-of-way to adjacent landowners, the MTQ maintained the right to build a two-lane road along the right-of-way. In 1992, Yvon Lafrance, an assemblyman representing Iberville in the Assembl�e Nationale du Qu�bec, advocated for a revival of plans to build A-6. Since then, however, there have been no serious plans to resurrect A-6.

THE LEGACY OF A-6: In the 1980s, the MTQ leveled the dirt abutments for the planned overpasses at the never-built A-6 interchange with QC 134 in Prairie. The MTQ still owns right-of-way in this area and operates a park-and-ride lot at this site.

In the mid-to-late 1990s, the MTQ built the La Mont�r�giade bike path mostly along the former Central Vermont (and once-proposed A-6) right-of-way between Iberville and Farnham. The bike path takes a southerly detour just west of QC 104, where a local skydiving club (Parachute Montreal) uses a graded section of what was to be A-6 as a landing strip.

During reconstruction of A-15 along the South Shore in the mid-2000s, the two carriageways of A-15 were moved closer together through the area of what was to be the A-6 interchange, removing the wide grassy median and thus any likelihood once and for all that A-6 would be built.

This 2007 photo shows the graded section of what would have been A-6 just west of Farnham. This particular section now is used by a local skydiving club, while most of the rest of the right-of-way is used as the La Mont�r�giade bike path. (Photo by Richard Dupuis.)

Another photo from 2007 showing the airstrip in the A-6 right-of-way. The airstrip is now owned by Parachute Montreal. (Photo by Richard Dupuis.)

SOURCES: "A Study of the Existing Montreal Expressway System" by Dominic Mignogna, McGill University (1969); "Call for Tenders, Minist�re de la Voirie du Qu�bec," Le Soleil (2/17/1972); "Between Farnham and Iberville: the Old Highway Project Sinks Forever" by G�rard Tremblay, La Voix de l'Est (10/15/1983); "Lafrance Wants To Relaunch the Route 6 Farnham-Iberville Project, La Voix de l'Est (3/28/1992); "A Farnham-Iberville Cycle Path: Feasible" by Nicole Paquette, La Voix de l'Est (11/13/1993); "Skydiving School: Don't Touch" by Nicole Paquette, La Voix de l'Est (11/13/1993); F�lix-Mathieu B�gin; Jean-Philippe Carone; Richard Dupuis; Minist�re des Transports du Qu�bec.

  • A-6 shield from Wikipedia.
  • Lightpost photos by Douglas Kerr.


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