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 MONTEREGIE TO THE EASTERN TOWNSHIPS: In the mid-1960s, the Ministère de la Voirie du Québec (MVQ) proposed a second east-west autoroute connecting the South Shore suburbs of Montreal with the Eastern Townships. The 55-kilometer (34-mile)-long Richelieu Autoroute, which was to receive the A-6 designation, was to parallel the existing QC 104. However, A-6, which was to link A-15 in La Prairie with A-30 in Longueuil and A-35 in St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu before ending in Farnham, did not appear in most regional plans for Montreal-area autoroutes.
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.
Three important factors likely worked against the construction of A-6. First, traffic from A-6 would have overwhelmed the Champlain Bridge (A-10, A-15, and A-20) and its eastern approaches. Second, the 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 Québec. Finally, further development of the A-6 right-of-way through La Prairie and Longueuil would have caused environmental damage to the banks of the St.-Jacques River, which A-6 was to parallel.
By the mid-1970s, the newly reorganized Ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ) canceled the western section of A-6 from A-15 east to A-35. Meanwhile, the MTQ developed preliminary plans to build A-6 from A-35 east to Farnham. The rise of Parti Québecois (PQ) after the 1976 elections formally ended many stillborn autoroute projects including A-6. The PQ diverted most of these funds to develop mass transit.
In the 1980s, the MTQ leveled the dirt abutments for the planned overpasses at Taschereau Boulevard. During reconstruction of the Monteregie Autoroute (A-15) 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. However, the MTQ still owns right-of-way in this area and operates a park-and-ride lot at the site of the QC 134 (Taschereau Boulevard) interchange.
Further east along QC 104 in the municipality of Farnham-Rainville, a local skydiving club uses the graded but unpaved section of A-6 right-of-way. This section is closed to vehicular traffic.
These 2007 photos show the graded section of what would have been A-6 in Farnham-Rainville. This particular section now is used by a local skydiving club, while other sections are used as trails. (Photos by Richard Dupuis.)
SOURCES: "A Study of the Existing Montreal Expressway System" by Dominic Mignogna, McGill University (1969); Ministère des Transports du Québec; Félix-Mathieu Bégin; Jean-Philippe Caron; Richard Dupuis.