As expected, the town’s dismal traffic problems along Jean Talon are bound to get worse — a lot worse — over the next year with no end in sight until the beginning of another new year in 2021.
“It’s going to be complete and total chaos,” said TMR’s Mayor Philippe Roy. “For at least eight months – if not more — two of the town’s main roads will be reduced to little more than a parking lot, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
While he admits that two of the three bridges that presently cross the town’s century – old rail bed were badly neglected and needed to be restored if not completely replaced, the mayor also mentioned that more could have been done to accommodate the town’s already serious traffic issues caused by all the construction around the new light-rail project’s TMR station. As traffic along Jean Talon Blvd was recently reduced to two lanes in order to accommodate work done to restore the original overpass, Roy said plans to close and rebuild the old Cornwall bridge over eight months beginning next April will turn at least two of the town’s main roads (Laird and Graham) “...into a parking lot,” over the summer and well into the rest of the year.
As CPDQ Infra now owns all three of the bridges that cross the old rail bed, the company is taking advantage of its decision to suspend rail traffic through the island’s cross-mountain tunnel to rebuild and restore the old Cornwall Bridge that’s located near its new light rail station. As traffic will be compromised, if not completely blocked by all the construction on the two bridges, the Mayor was hoping to convert the old pedestrian overpass located near Jasper and Lazar — into a single lane traffic bridge that could be used to provide some kind of traffic relief for the town’s beleaguered commuters during daily rush hours. As the Jasper Bridge is already available for emergency vehicles, he didn’t think that it would be much of a problem — especially as the conversion was being done at the town’s expense. However, in response to the Mayor’s formal request for the traffic accommodation, Light Rail Project director André Dufour told Roy that it will not be possible to open the bridge for traffic as the bridge is a pedestrian overpass, “and not a level crossing.” While Dufour went on to cite “security reasons” to justify the company’s refusal, Roy considers the company’s arguments to be unreasonable as well as “completely crazy.”
“We’re going to be stuck in traffic jams for at least eightmonths,” said the Mayor. “How can REM project engineers accept this situation when there’s such an obvious solution to the problem?”
While REM project officials insist that “they’re listening,” chances are that as of the beginning of next April, hundreds of drivers will have to wait until the end of 2020 before anyone comes up with any real solution to their problem.