Traffic and the Turcot project – Is there a silver lining?
By: John Symon – mtltimes.ca
As previously reported, the ongoing $3.7 billion Turcot Interchange reconstruction project will cause major traffic headaches for residents of parts of Montreal Island through 2019. The Times attended three Ministry of Transport (MTQ) Turcot information meetings this month; at one meeting Lachine Mayor Claude Dauphin demanded an emergency meeting with MTQ officials, hoping to mitigate some resulting traffic problems. That emergency meeting happened on Oct. 14.
“I even had to push for an information meeting in Lachine,” related Dauphin. “Originally the MTQ only wanted to hold a meeting in LaSalle. But the changes affect Lachine more than LaSalle. We found out about plans to close the St. Pierre on-ramp to Highway 20 East (toward downtown) which will remain closed for four years.”
Dauphin does not dispute the importance of the Turcot project, but points out that the MTQ is effectively closing 50 percent of the highway access East from Lachine; another entrance at 1st Ave. is just an extension of the St. Pierre on-ramp. The borough of Lachine had originally scheduled major roadwork on 32nd Ave. for 2016, but this is now on hold so as not to deprive
citizens of that highway access.
Two silver linings with this traffic mess might be accelerated construction of a new AMT commuter train station in eastern Lachine and improvements to a major bike path.
“The new Du Canal AMT train station will be built near St. Joseph Blvd by the end of 2016. It will be a temporary station at first, with stairs in wood, but we want to make it permanent,” said Dauphin. He also spoke about the Vaudreuil (West Island) AMT train line, noting that the Caisse de Dépôt is making huge investments to upgrade that line. “We want stops in Lachine, but the ADM (airport management) probably wants it to be a direct train to downtown.” Dauphin noted that other cities have rapid train service from downtown to the airport with stops along the way, citing Vancouver, BC.
The Lachine Canal bike path passes through the affected area on its way down to Old Montreal and Dauphin said his borough could start clearing snow from it this winter. This is great news for winter cyclists who have been demanding just that for years. But five Montreal boroughs need to coordinate efforts.
Jonathan Théorêt, director of GRAME and member of Lachine’s Transport Committee, accompanied Dauphin to meet the MTQ. “It would be responsible to start clearing the bike path starting this winter,” he said, suggesting that the KPH consortium building Turcot should cover this cost as part of its obligation “to maintain traffic mobility.” Théorêt added that coordination of the snow clearing would be best managed by the central city.
This week, the MTQ permanently closed Pullman Street, a major access point onto Highway 20 East for Côte St Luc, Lachine, Montreal West, and western NDG. Some 1,000 vehicles travel hourly on Ste. Anne de Bellevue Blvd (by the NDG Canadian Tire) at peak periods, many of them en route to Highway 20 East. Much of this traffic must now transit along the already-crowded St. Jacques Street of Lachine’s “Ville St. Pierre.”
In November, a second entrance to Highway 20 East will be closed at St. Pierre Ave, leaving local motorists little choice but an even longer detour via Notre Dame St. W in Lachine to access Highway 20 East from Angrignon Blvd. Much of this detour is on roads only one lane wide. Dauphin hopes to convince MTQ officials to leave the St Pierre entrance open.