Commuters driving from the west end of Montreal to the downtown area will have new traffic woes to worry about as of this morning.
Transports Québec late Sunday night permanently closed the access ramp from St-Jacques Street in lower Notre-Dame-de-Grâce to Highway 720, or the Ville-Marie Expressway, as it prepares to work on the new Turcot Interchange reconstruction.
“Transports Québec will be revisiting the St-Jacques, St-Rémi and Pullman intersections completely. We will lower it down by about one metre, this way we won’t have to build the future structure higher,” said spokesperson Stéphane Boivin.
About 8,000 drivers use the ramp every day to get downtown, but Transports Québec said it’s not too big of a detour.
“Right now if you are on St-Jacques going to the 720 East, you should continue on St-Jacques to De La Cathédrale St. and then access the 720,” said Sarah Bensadoun, also of Transports Québec.
Western Montrealers hardest hit
Although people living west of Décarie Boulevard will be hardest hit, NDG mayor Russell Copeman said the borough is doing all it can to help people out.
“We have the reserved bus lane on Sherbrooke St. for the 105 (bus). We’re looking at improving flow on NDG Avenue which is the other eastbound that’s used in the morning — it’s a significant eastbound way to get downtown,” Copeman said.
According to NDG city councillor Peter McQueen, the bus lane is not yet operational.
"With the STM, we're working on a bus lane on Sherbrooke. It's been in the works for a year and a half. It's unfortunate that Transports Québec is so adamant that it's got to close next week — not in a month or two after we get the lane markings on the street," McQueen said.
A lane in each direction on St-Jacques are also closed.
McQueen said some extra time on the closure of the St-Jacques ramp would have been useful in allowing the borough to finish other road work projects that would ease the traffic.
“If they could have given us three more months, we could have gotten the sewer work on Sherbrooke finished, the final repaving in front of Vendôme Metro finished and the bus lane on Sherbrooke up and running,” he said.
McQueen said western NDG residents should consider taking Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue Road westbound to the Angrignon entrance to the 720, while people living in the northern part should take Côte-St-Luc Road to Décarie Boulevard.
He said borough officials are working to make it easier for drivers to turn right at that intersection to more quickly access the highway.
He also said the borough is suggesting to Transports Québec to reopen the Greene Avenue entrance to the 720 for people driving south on Greene.
The new Turcot Interchange is scheduled for completion in 2020.