Ste. Anne will proceed with T-intersection to resolve Exit 41 closure
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Ste. Anne de Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa answers residents’ questions following a public information meeting to announce that the city is proceeding with plans to build a T-intersection at Exit 41 that will connect the westbound Highway 40 service road to Boulevard des Anciens-Combattants.
After considering its options to resolve the long-standing, three-year closure of Exit 41 that connects to Boulevard des Anciens-Combattants from the westbound Highway 40 service road, the City of Ste. Anne de Bellevue announced it will proceed with plans to build a T-intersection to replace the two overpasses that were closed in early 2011.
The announcement was made during a public information meeting at the Harpell Centre on Monday evening, May 26, to about 50 residents who listened to the presentation made by Martin Bonhomme, the city’s Executive Director; and Claude La Rue, Director of Technical Services, outlining the cost and scope of the project.
The city’s original plan to salvage the two overpasses was deemed unfeasible after an engineering inspection determined that both structures – originally built in 1963 – were at the end of their 50-year lifespan and had undergone additional structural damage including severe corrosion during their closure because they could not be properly maintained, said Mayor Paola Hawa.
The projected cost of replacing the two spans with new bridges with a 20year lifespan would cost an estimated $2.8 million with the entire cost having to be assumed by the city. The cost of the T-intersection with a 25-year lifespan is estimated at just over $2.7 million, with just over half the cost to be assumed by the provincial Ministry of Transport (MTQ) through subsidies.
Additional capital cost savings during the 25 year term of the T-intersection means that the total savings to Ste. Anne’s would amount to just over $1.4 million. “It’s a large amount of money that we cannot afford to spend,” said Hawa.
Plans for the configuration of the T-intersection will be drawn up over the summer and presented to the MTQ for approval by October. The two overpasses will be demolished next winter at a cost of $600,000 and construction of the T-intersection would begin by the end of spring 2015.
Not everyone was pleased with the announcement with some residents saying the traffic lights at the new intersection would impede the flow of traffic. Bonhomme said the traffic lights will be synchronized according to the flow of traffic during rush hour periods and operate on an on-demand basis according to vehicle priority as they approach the intersection at off peak hours.
Hawa conceded that two new bridges would provide for a better unimpeded flow of traffic and reduce the risk of accidents, but it would not be fiscally prudent for the city to pass on the additional $1.4 million cost to taxpayers.
“It’s not an ideal solution, but it is what it is,” Hawa told residents during the meeting. “We have to grin and bear it. When it comes to the overpasses and the T-intersection, we won’t have the same level of service on a T-intersection; that is for sure. Like I said, the choice we have is a difference of $1.4 million.”
For off-island Pincourt resident Greg Rajewski who has long been inconvenienced by the Exit 41 closure, the decision to proceed with a T-intersection is a good solution. “I could live with the T-intersection,” Rajewski told Your Local Journal.
“I think the flow of traffic will adjust over time. There will probably be a surge of traffic at first and then people will get frustrated with that and eventually find an alternative as they have all these years,” said Rajewski.
In order to alleviate rush hour traffic congestion on Chemin Ste. Marie in the interim, the city is planning to build a temporary $40,000 access road at Exit 41 to connect westbound traffic from the Highway 40 service road onto Boulevard des Anciens-Combattants. Plans to configure the temporary roadway would begin in June with construction slated to start by August.