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Montreal roadwork committee on ice as traffic snarls worsen

A committee created two years ago to coordinate roadwork in Greater Montreal and ease traffic congestion hasn't met in more than a year, a source tells CBC News.

Committee to coordinate road repairs hasn't met since PQ election in Sept. 2012, source tells CBC News

A committee set up in 2011 to coordinate major road repairs like this emergency work on the Lafontaine tunnel has not met since the PQ government's election 14 months ago. (CBC)

A committee created two years ago to coordinate major roadwork in Greater Montreal and ease traffic congestion hasn't held a single meeting since the PQ government was elected in September 2012.

The committee is to hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the complications resulting from this week's discovery that a crack in one of the girders supporting the Champlain Bridge will mean the closure of one southbound lane for at least a month.

CBC News has learned that for the past 14 months, critical decisions have not been made — or have been delayed for too long — leading to concern that two major projects due to get underway in early 2014 in Montreal's west end will result in major traffic snarls.

The committee was set up in June, 2011 by former Liberal transport minister Sam Hamad in response to an outcry about the impact of the emergency work on the Ville-Marie tunnel, repairs to the Mercier Bridge and other major roadwork on traffic congestion.

That committee, called Mobilité Montréal, was in fact made up of two sub-committees:

  • a technical arm — composed of city and provincial bureaucrats, public transit officials and representatives from construction and trucking firms 
  • a political arm  composed of the mayors of Montreal and Longueuil, the Quebec transport minister and senior bureaucrats and private consultants.

A spokesman for Transport Minister SylvainGaudreault, Yann Langlais-Plante, says the committee is functioning well, despite the fact that the political arm has not met for more than a year.

Warning: conflicting road repairs ahead

A source has told CBC News that Mobilité Montréal is facing critical decisions on conflicting road repair projects.

For example, the Quebec transport ministry is to begin tearing down the Saint-Jacques overpass on the Décarie expressway in January — a project that is scheduled to take two years.

To complicate that for technical teams planning detours, the City of Montreal is set to do dig up nearby Sherbrooke Street both east and west of the Décarie expressway — work scheduled to begin in the spring of 2014 and extend into the summer.

That will mean two parrallel east-west arteries in Montreal's west end will be paralyzed at the same time — the exact type of scenario the Mobilité Montréal subcommittee was established to avoid.

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