Sunday, November 15, 2009

Save Windsor Station! Demolish the Bell Center!

This is the venerable old downtown Windsor Station as it currently stands.

   The monstrosity is an approximation of my understanding of its future look, in which it would become a big center for South Shore buses and trains to the airport as well as the metro. The ramp would be required because the space is too cramped so authorities are going to build a ramp to the empty lot south of the station.
  The fuglifying vista-obliterating expansion would never have been necessary had the new Forum never been built adjacent to the train station.
  Many Montrealers - including Phyllis Bronfman and Dinu Bumbaru - like this ramp-based initiative in spite of the fact that it would wreck the beauty of the stately old station.
  What does Mike Fish, the sharp-tack father of local conservationism and longtime defender of Windsor station recommend? He suggests the Bell Center be demolished and the old Forum at Atwater be refurbished and host its arena functions anew. Fish points out that the process required to adapt the train tracks to the new Windsor Station project is prohibitively expensive and simply expanding into the Bell Center would be far more cost effective. I could offer more details of his critique if others wish to read.


Neath said...

One of the best options I have heard in a while.

kyle said...

So the first step for the layperson is to stop going to movies at the AMC Forum to bankrupt it, and force them to look for a new tennant, right? Yeah, building the Molson/Bell/Molson Centre so it blocked Windsor Station was kinda a silly idea.

emdx said...

It's a pretty silly proposal.

In the light of the recent corruption scandals that are happenning under the current liberal government (those always happen when the liberals are in power), it is clear that a developper who is a little friend of the régime stands to gain a lot from this.

Imagine: building a 10+ track (it has to be bigger than the current 8 track terminal…) train station 60 feet up in the air?

Hellooo? How much is this going to cost???

It's going to cost a fortune, and some developper will get a free-ride on this; he'll build his own buildings and shopping malls on top (and under) of it, without paying for the extra-cost of making extra-heavy to bear the weight of the trains, and will collect 100% of the rent, and you can bet your arse that it will find a way of collecting rent from the AMT, too! (That's called a "public-private partnership", meaning that the private part gets the gravy while the public part gets the bill — but that's the liberals: funnelling public money into the pockets of their little friends).

To put things in perspective, each track will be 25 feet wide (track+platform; Central Station is designed around a 25 feet grid), and at least 10 cars long (that's 850 feet — let's say 1000 feet for allowing the bumper post, fouling allowances and engines). So you're building a 250000 square feet platform 60 feet high that has to hold the weight of 10 trains. And I'm not even talking about the fan.

A quarter of a million square feet of real-estate. Downtown. And that's for 10 meager, dead-end tracks 60 friggin' feet up in the air.. Hellooo??? How much is this going to cost???

By comparison, Place-Ville-Marie is 702 feet by 422 feet, which makes 300,000 square feet.

Right now, there is a huge train station that has been sitting there for 120 years, and who has not seen a single train for more than 35 years!

Trouble is, there is a **HUGE** honking skating rink in the way, a skating rink that has yet to show a profit, and which is used to dumb-down the populace in order to make sure it does not have any interest in politics.

Tear down the fucking hokey rink, and bring back the trains where they used to run; there was enough room there to run more than 100 trains daily, far more than what we can expect here.

Or if the sacro-sanct hokey rink has to remain there, why build a totally new train station 60 feet in the air when there is another one that has been there for 65 years two blocks west? Just build a viaduct from Windsor to Central, and then you'll have a truly central station. Bonus: the elusive airport shuttle may end-up in Central Station after all…

As of the buses, right now, next to central station, there is a multistory parking lot that is on sloping ground, so it has street-level access on TWO separate levels. That would make a fantastic multilevel bus terminal, no?

How much a viaduct veering off the CP tracks and going above Chaboillez square towards the Central Station viaduct is going to cost?

Far much a lot plenty enormously beaucoup less than the silly quarter-million square feet station 60 feet high-up in the air, lemme tell you…

jacob said...

Except that undoing the Bell Centre and Forum decisions would be a transparent admission of past mistakes (we prefer to just forget).

alexr said...

You guys are sooo negative! You should see the picture they made!

It had pretty colors! Happy people! Flying trains!

I can't wait, it might be even more grandiose than Bonaventure.

BruB said...

Sorry Guys, Stupid idea.

Considered an economic success, the Bell Centre currently ranks fourth in the world for ticket receipts. And, they pay taxes without any deal. Windsor station doesn't pay in full.

Anonymous said...

Why didn’t they build the new forum one block to the north?

Must have been some real-estate deal jerking-off, as usual.

Marc said...


And a rejuvinated Forum won't be an economic success?

Fourth on the planet for ticket sales? I have serious doubts about that. But I have no doubt that it is an economic success given how much it costs to go to a show or game there.

It's the ugliest thing downtown and must be eliminated.

BruB said...

Marc, know your fact please

Second point, I can think of much uglier building that should go before, Le Palais de Justice being one of them. Using the words "must go" shows how simple minded some of you are.

I'm not saying that it was a smart idea to put the Centre there, but it is and demolishing it isn't the right way, it's there and it's doing a good job. It's filling up for concerts and hockey, brings in tourism and is still one of the best arena in the NHL.

You guys may not like hockey and don't see a reason for it, but most of the population do and what's done is done, let's take advantage of this beautifull project the AMT is bringing forward to fix the mistakes that was done and have a superb public transit hub showing that Montreal is ahead of the rest of north America with a transport plan that deserves a new building.

Anonymous said...

Fish was always furious about the Bell Centre at the time it was being proposed.
I guess he has maintained the same temperature. (Good for him; he won't get a food-inspection citation.)

Taylor said...

Third option:

Build a new station over the tracks at the Lucien-l'Allier Depot, creating an inter-modal station serving the Dorion-Rigaud Line, the Airport Express and the Adirondack. This new station would be connected directly to the Metro and the Arena as it is now, but, commercial/ retail services, ticket counters, security, baggage handling and all the other services necessary for the proper functioning of a massive transit hub should be centered at Windsor Station. Additionally, tunnels could be built under the Bell Centre to connect directly to Windsor Station. Take it a step further and I'm certain as system could be introduced whereby commuters would use one tunnel/access system to quickly get between STM and AMT stations while travelers - whether going to or coming from the airport and/or getting on a States-bound train would use a separate system, one which would funnel traffic towards Windsor Station (and by extension, Gare Centrale, Bonaventure Metro, the Downtown Bus Terminus etc.

I agree with Fish on one point in particular - the one-size-fits-all/everything-under-one-roof development scheme is a loser. When they happen incidentally, or after years of careful planning and integration, they seem to work, but purpose-built could end up a dud. Cadillac Fairview should develop the land, and by all means stick a TRAM terminus there, maybe even an STM terminus too.

Razing the Bell Centre seems unlikely - aesthetics aside, it's far too valuable and there are few other pieces of land of equal size and equal importance. Despite the many appeals on the Gazette's website, neither the parking lot north of the Bell Centre, nor the parking lot south of Windsor Station are amply large enough to host a Canadiens arena (plus the park where the tracks used to be is quite nice, if under used).

Ideally, Windsor Station's new role would be as the "hub-of-hubs", connecting the two commuter stations, AMTRACK, VIA, the RTL Bus Depot, Bonaventure and Lucien-l'Allier Metro stations and potentially an STM Bus Depot and TRAM all together. Tunnels would then run underground between Windsor Station and all the diverse elements of what would become a massive new addition to the underground city, and potentially kick-start earnest redevelopment of the downtown core south of St. Antoine.

However, for those who feel the injustice lies in Windsor Station not being a train station proper, the only other solution I can think of is to knock down the small u-shaped building between Windsor Station and the Bell Centre on St. Antoine: in doing so, trains could be oriented north-south (in stark opposition to the layout of the original station). This would result in a miniaturized version of the Bonaventure Viaduct as it takes trains south, towards ETS. At that point, I propose that the train lines be brought underground after clearing the Ville-Marie Expressway, to reappear in Griffintown at grade and link up with the existing line that crosses the Lachine Canal.

avrom said...

Please see Pimento Reports on YouTube:

The Pimento Report / Le Piment #003 Avrom ...
9 min - 29 Oct 2008

The Pimento report / Le Piment #14 The Turcot Challenge

Avrom Shtern,
Green Coalition,
Transportation Issues,

Anonymous said...

Tearing down the Hell Centre sounds like a great idea!