If you are a cyclist or pedestrian who commutes between Montreal and the South Shore on the Jacques Cartier Bridge bike path, read on.
First, the bad news: the bike path will close, once again, as soon as the snow flies.
The good news is, the corporation that oversees the bridge is trying to figure out a snow removal strategy so the path can be open year-round, possibly by next winter.
Julie Paquet, spokesperson for the bridge corporation, said the corporation is working as quickly as possible, but there is no magic solution.
Part of the issue is that traditional snow-removal techniques can't be used on the bridge, because, for example, there are homes and roads underneath parts of it, and you can't just dump the snow on them.
They will test out different mechanical and chemical ways to remove the snow, and are looking for businesses that have innovative ideas on how to melt snow and ice.
Frustration over delay
Those who use the path have been asking for continuous access to it for years.
François Démontagne, who speaks for a group of cyclists and pedestrians who use the bike path, said he is pleased that the group's request is being heard, but he's "frustrated" that the change won't come this year.
He said would have liked to see alternatives, such as a shuttle service, proposed as well.
The cities of Longueuil and Montreal have agreed to keep the bike paths on their territories that lead to the bridge clear, he said, which will facilitate access once year-round access becomes a reality.
Separating pedestrians and bikes
There is one definite change coming, however — starting next year, bikes and pedestrians will no longer share the path.
The west side will be reserved for cyclists and the east side for pedestrians. Paquet said with increasing numbers of bikes on the path, separating people on bikes from those on foot has became necessary for security reasons.
A new staircase will be installed on de Maisonneuve Boulevard so pedestrians can access the bridge on the east side in the spring.