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The Canadian government today announced its plan to complete the Lac-Megantic rail bypass by 2023.
The government and Canadian Pacific will begin preparing plans and specifications for the project, which calls for moving rail operations to the Lac-Megantic industrial park in Quebec.
Land acquisition negotiations soon will begin with property owners. A virtual information session will be held with them in the near future to answer their questions, government officials said in a press release issued by Transport Canada.
The construction phase is expected to begin in spring 2022. Government officials are working with CP to establish a schedule that will allow the project to be completed in 2023, they said.
"We achieved a number of milestones in recent months which have allowed us to move the project forward, despite many challenges, including those posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the officials said. “To relocate railway operations to the Lac-Megantic industrial park, as announced in 2019, we had additional engineering work done."
The 8-mile project is being built in response to the July 2013 Lac-Megantic rail disaster, in which an unattended crude-oil train, which had been parked in Nantes at the top of a slope, rolled down the hill before derailing at a high rate of speed in Lac-Megantic. The derailment led to an explosion and fire that killed 47 people and destroyed Lac-Megantic's downtown.
The rail bypass project was developed to provide security for the town while ensuring local businesses can continue to access rail transportation.
In May 2018, the Canadian and Quebec governments announced joint funding for construction of the bypass. The federal government will provide 60% of the funding and the Quebec government will provide the other 40%.