• John Jantak

Ste. Anne de Bellevue temporary access road at Exit 41 opens to traffic


JOHN JANTAK

Motorists can now access Boulevard Anciens Combattants from the westbound Highway 40 service road at exit 41 in Ste. Anne de Bellevue after a temporary access road was officially opened September 11.

Commuters travelling west along Highway 40 can expect traffic relief beginning today with the official opening of the temporary access road that will finally allow motorists to directly access Boulevard des Anciens Combattants in the north sector of Ste. Anne de Bellevue from the service road at Exit 41. “It’s been a long time in coming,” Mayor Paola Hawa told Your Local Journal.

“I am very proud of our administration and the majority of council for taking into consideration residents’ security and quality of life as priority number one. We were able to get it done quickly and it showed our ability to think outside the box. We did what we had to do.”

Motorists have been unable to access Boulevard des Anciens Combattants from the westbound service road for more than three-and-a-half years, after public safety concerns regarding the structural integrity of two overpasses prompted the city under former Mayor Francis Deroo’s administration to close the bridges in February 2011. Since then, commuters have had to find alternate routes to bypass the closed exit.

This resulted in many motorists getting off at Exit 44 and driving west along Chemin Ste. Marie to Boulevard des Anciens Combattants. More than 3000 vehicles travel along the narrow two-lane rural-type road on weekdays during rush hour to the consternation of area residents. Other more daring drivers would still use Exit 41 to access eastbound Chemin Ste. Marie and then make an immediate, sharp illegal U-turn at the bottom of the hill to connect to Boulevard des Anciens Combattants.

It became a major safety issue after several accidents were reported which prompted the police to regularly monitor the situation and hand out tickets to violators. Hawa stressed it was important for the city to finally rectify the situation and determined the best solution for the city would be to build the temporary access road because it would ensure motorist safety with the approach of winter, and to reduce the volume of traffic on Chemin Ste. Marie.

She also noted that the two overpass closures represent an unflattering historical achievement for the city. “It’s the longest time any overpass has been closed in the history of Quebec,” said Hawa. While four of the six councillors approved the resolution to proceed with the temporary access road at a special council meeting in mid-August, District 6 Councillor Michel Boudreault who represents the northeastern sector of city, voted against the proposal.

District 5 Councillor Yvan Labelle who represents northwestern sector, was absent from the meeting. Boudreault voted against the project because he said the money could have been better spent elsewhere. The city is currently preparing plans to replace the two overpasses with an intersection that will reconnect northbound Boulevard des Anciens Combattants to eastbound Chemin Ste. Marie with construction tentatively scheduled to begin by next summer.

“I’m opposed to paying $50,000 for a temporary road. I don’t think that the majority of residents who live in the north of Ste. Anne’s are convinced that amount of money is well spent for something that is temporary,” said Boudreault. Hawa said the temporary access road is necessary and became part of her mandate following her May oral victory last November to resolve the exit 41 debacle at minimal cost to taxpayers and to ease the traffic situation along Chemin Ste. Marie in the interim.

“We had to look at our options and find out if the T-intersection was the best solution. Now we know that with the full analysis we did, the intersection was the best option available, otherwise we would have always been second guessing ourselves as to whether or not we did the right thing. It may not be the best solution, but it’s more financially reasonable.” said Hawa

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