Montreal

Temporary Vendôme-MUHC tunnel opening raises accessibility questions

The tunnel between the Vendôme Metro station and the MUHC's Glen site is now open, and provincial and municipal politicians present at the inauguration faced questions about its user-friendliness.

An elevator and a stairway in the 34-metre Vendôme tunnel lead to MUHC front yard

Politicians and dignitaries take the first walk through the Vendome-MUHC tunnel.

An elevator and a stairway inside the Vendôme Metro station will now bring commuters within a hundred metres of the MUHC's entrance, but stops short of leading visitors directly into the hospital. 

In the lead up to the opening of the superhospital nearly two months ago, the $5 million tunnel was criticized because it was not wheelchair accessible.

Today, as the tunnel was officially opened by politicians and hospital executives, the accessibility question was again raised. 

Quebec Transport Minister Robert Poeti, on hand for ribbon-cutting, said the current underground passage is the best temporary solution.

He would not give a specific timeline for the completion of the permanent passage, only saying that the project was a priority and a work in progress.

NDG borough councillor Peter McQueen believes it's going to take a minimum of four years before the permanent link is open and is concerned about the obstacles that await commuters.

''As you know Montreal winters are not going to be comfortable [for those going to the MUHC, especially for people with limited-mobility," McQueen said.

MUHC CEO Normand Rinfret said that solutions such as an outdoor shelter to facilitate the outdoor walk will be considered. 

Rinfret said that direct underground access is not possible for now, despite the fact that there is a door that leads to the MUHC's parking garage, which then leads inside the hospital.

"It's a magnetic door that is only supposed to be open in the case of [a] fire," Rinfret said.

"It's not a door that is conceived as a wall and everything related to massive transportation means for people to get access."

McQueen says that allowing that door to be opened from the Vendôme station would make things easier on commuters given there are a significant number of elevators inside the parking garage.

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