Mercier closure angers mayors, commuters
Planned repairs and emergency work create traffic chaos around the island
Mayors in the greater Montreal area are demanding provincial action to fight gridlock, as multiple construction sites on key arteries create chronic traffic congestion on and around the island.
The Montreal Metropolitan Community passed a resolution Thursday, asking Quebec to form an emergency committee on gridlock.
Montreal mayor Gérald Tremblay believes a provincial committee is needed to coordinate road work projects, and mitigate their effects on residents and commuters.
The unprecedented volume of road work "has a major impact on business," Tremblay said, citing the Champlain Bridge repairs as an example.
Trucks need clear passage on and off the island to ensure "the mobility of goods and services," Tremblay said. "That is very important."
"Every day we hear that there's major problems with our infrastructure," he continued. "Is there something else that we should know about?"
Quebec Transport Minister Sam Hamad said he's open to the mayors' idea of a committee, and plans to meet with them soon.
Bridge work compounds island construction
Morning rush-hour traffic is limited to one-way, northbound into Montreal from the South Shore. Afternoon rush-hour traffic will only be allowed outbound to the South Shore.
The Agence Métropolitaine de Transport (AMT), which runs Montreal's suburban train network, has adjusted its schedule to accomodate more commuters.
The AMT struck a deal with CP Rail to access extra track time, to run more trains between Montreal and the South Shore.
Three morning and afternoon train departures on the Candiac line have been added.
Commuters left with little choice
Extra train service has done little to temper growing public rage over Montreal gridlock.
"I'm pissed off," said Claudie Dagenais, a South Shore resident who uses the Mercier Bridge every day. "I hate it. I'm very upset."
On Thursday, she took a commuter train for the first time in her life.
Regular train commuters seem pleased with additional service due to construction.
"It's great," said Denis Pageau, while he waited for his morning train Thursday on the Candiac line. "It's really a good initiative for all the people who need to take the Mercier."
But not everyone has the option of public tranist.
Pierre Aubin runs two trucking companies on the South Shore, and said he's losing hundreds of dollars a day because of traffic jams.
He had little good to say about municipal leaders and their recent outrage over gridlock.
"They're just talking bullshit. Whatever they're saying, nobody understands them, and nobody believes them."