Construction should begin in the next few months on the much-discussed redesign of the Bonaventure Expressway.

The city of Montreal and the Societe du Havre have spent years on designing a revamped 'waterfront entrance' to the downtown core, and after taking critiques from the public have finally settled on their final plan.

Mayor Gerald Tremblay says the city will never look the same again.

"We're reinventing the entry of Montreal," said Tremblay.

A call for tenders on the $200 million project is expected to go out in the next few weeks, with preliminary construction to begin before the year is out, and continue through 2014.

The work itself will be split into two parts: $142 to lower the Bonaventure Expressway to ground level after it crosses the northeasternmost tip of the Lachine canal, and $61 million to widen Duke and Nazareth streets between De La Commune and St. Antoine to four lanes each, and create a so-called 'greenbelt' in the area.

Four-lane urban boulevard

The Societe du Havre de Montreal is in charge of the project, and sees the transformation of the Bonaventure Expressway into an eight-lane boulevard as the first step in its 'Vision 2025' project.

Isabelle Hudon expects the 'Quartier Bonaventure' project will radically transform how Montrealers and South Shore residents view the city.

"We will go from an industrial neighbourhood to a very enjoyable neighbourhood, where it will be fun to walk around," Hudon said.

The first step will be widening Duke and Nazareth streets, which parallel the Bonaventure from the waterfront to St. Antoine, to create an urban boulevard.

"I would say this portion might go down in the second year," Hudon said, referring to the elevated portion of Expressway that runs from De La Commune to Notre Dame. "The third year will be reserved to make sure that green spaces are there and that when we open the boulevard everything will be there."

Once construction of the roadways is complete, the city wants developers to build high-rises in the area.

Buses along three streets

The initial plan to change Dalhousie and De L'inspecteur into a bus-only corridor was roundly condemned by critics, who said having up to 1,000 buses travel the route in each direction, each day, would be destructive.

The revised plan will see buses make a loop from the end of the Bonaventure, along Peel to the South Shore bus terminal, then return to the Bonaventure via Duke and Nazareth.

But in the long term, the Societe du Havre de Montreal would like to see a new railway link between the South Shore and downtown Montreal.

Councillor Sophie Thiebaut wishes the rail links were part of the current plan, and says the administration's focus on buses "is not innovative enough for the 21st century."

The city says it will hold more public forums on transportation, but dates have yet to be announced.

Traffic will flow

On any given day approximately 60,000 cars use the Bonaventure Expressway to enter downtown Montreal.

The mayor says traffic will continue to use the span during construction, but says a committee is looking at setting up a temporary commuter train on the Victoria bridge.