The Plante administration has stirred considerable controversy with many of its traffic initiatives. From closing Remembrance Road on Mount Royal to cutting St. Catherine to one lane of traffic and eliminating some 500 parking places. But new developments may place the most serious challenge to this administration’s credibility on this issue.
Every decision on traffic has caused — or will cause — more congestion and pollution for this environmentally conscious government. But now that the Hippodrome is about to be developed, Decarie Square to be redeveloped, the beginning of construction on TMR’s 15/40 mega project and Turcot still some years from completion, Montreal’s west end will be facing the greatest challenges to maintaining rational and sustainable circulation grids since the construction of the Decarie Expressway.
It is time that Mayor Plante — and particularly Executive Committee member responsible for transport Luc Ferrandez — start paying attention to the looming crisis in the west end. She is the mayor of that part of the city too after all. And there is only one solution to averting disastrous consequences from an outdated traffic grid and woeful lack of services. That solution is finally opening the Cavendish Link. It has been promised by five administrations but is still not done. Because it was so delayed, it will now have to be accompanied by several parallel initiatives.
All the welcome growth in the west end will require several traffic congestion solutions to avoid Cote St. Luc being inundated. The Cavendish Link will have to be accompanied by an extension of the Orange Line to the REM at Bois Franc or put in a rapid bus service from Decarie and Jean-Talon to the REM. This should be a priority over the Mayor’s proposed Pink Line.
To give you an idea of the critical mass that we have today — and that will be added to in the next few years — the cross section of Jean-Talon and Decarie sees some 100,000 cars a day. Giving cars and trucks only one alternative — Cavendish — to the Decarie Corridor will no longer be enough. Done alone, it may simply create a new west end traffic congestion disaster given the half-dozen large projects underway or planned.
Another initiative that has to be built is connecting Vezina and Decarie — a major traffic headache during rush hours — to the Namur Metro. It’s just 500 metres away and would encourage use of public transit. Adding a train station on the St. Jerome line at Decarie and Jean Talon connected to the Namur Metro would also be a sustainable solution.
Certain infrastructure additions and improvements are also urgent. New overpasses are needed (for example from Westbury to Namur), underpasses, level crossings (particularly at Clanranald between Décarie Square and the Hippodrome) and upgrades to the existing Décarie crossings to allow all modes of transport ease of access across the railway tracks and road way barriers.
The agenda is not an easy one. But if Mayor Plante wants a true legacy, she can ensure it by doing what five predecessors failed to do. It will rationalize traffic in one of Montreal’s fastest growing areas, reduce air pollution and finally make the west end feel that it matters as the REM West Island extension and promise of the realization of the Train de l’Ouest did for that part of the island.