• John Jantak

Westbound Exit 41 link to Boulevard des Anciens Combattants officially reopened


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Ste. Anne de Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa and Chemin St. Marie resident Stephane Wintemute remove a traffic cone during a ceremony to mark the official opening of a temporary road that reconnects southbound Boulevard des Anciens Combattants from the westbound Highway 40 service road at Exit 41, last Thursday morning September 11.

After being closed for more than three-and-a-half years, Mayor Paola Hawa and representatives from the City of Ste. Anne de Bellevue ceremonially reopened the westbound Exit 41 service road link that connects to southbound Boulevard des Anciens Combattants, last Thursday morning, September 11. “I am so relieved,” Hawa told Your Local Journal.

Two municipal employees continued to direct traffic from the service road onto Chemin St. Marie until officials from the provincial Ministry of Transport (MTQ) gave their official approval to remove the barricade of traffic cones at 9:30 a.m. – signaling the official reopening of the access road to the delight of some motorists who honked their horns in approval. The solution involved configuring and paving a small stretch of road to reconnect the two roads.

“It came in slightly under budget and four days ahead of schedule,” said Hawa. “How often do you get to say that on an infrastructure project? I’m proud of our city. All it took was a little ‘out of the box’ thinking. It was a very simple solution. It may not be perfect, but it’s better than nothing.” For Hawa, the temporary road earmarked at about $50,000 is an inexpensive stop-gap measure designed to improve the quality of life and address safety concerns for residents living in the north sector of the city until a permanent T-intersection is completed next year.

The new intersection will replace the two overpasses that were closed in March 2011, which will be demolished before construction begins. The reopening was welcomed by Chemin Ste. Marie resident Stephane Wintemute, who was on hand to personally cheer on the first vehicle – a white municipal hatchback – that was allowed to officially cross the barricade of orange cones one hour before the official opening.

“It’s an ecstatic morning for me,” Wintemute told Your Local Journal, who along with other homeowners, have endured incessant traffic that averaged about 3,000 vehicles during weekday rush hours. Motorists would exit Highway 40 West at Morgan Road, and then travel west along Chemin Ste. Marie to connect to Boulevard des Anciens Combattants as an alternative route to bypass the closure. Other motorists made an extra four kilometer journey along the Highway 40 West service road to loop around at Senneville and continue back eastbound on Highway 40 to exit onto Boulevard des Anciens Combattants.

The lengthy closure also affected off -island residents particularly on Île Perrot who rely on Boulevard des Anciens Combattants to access the neighbouring island. There were at least two petitions that were submitted by local residents to the MTQ since 2011 asking the ministry to resolve the situation. Wintemute expects a noticeable reduction in traffic, and credited Hawa and municipal council for their leadership in successfully resolving the situation, if only temporarily until the T-intersection is completed.

“It will absolutely solve the traffic situation on Chemin Ste. Marie,” said Wintemute. “As soon as people notice that the exit is reopened, they’ll be using it. Not only will it give residents peace of mind, it also shows leadership from the city. “At the end of the day, residents have seen this detour in place for three-and-a-half years without the city showing any willingness to do anything about it,” added Wintemute, who was referring to the apparent lack of action to resolve the closure under former Mayor Francis Deroo’s administration.

“This is first step in trying to do something about it.” Support for the temporary road hasn’t been unanimous. District 6 Councillor Michel Boudreault who serves his constituents in the northeast sector, voted against a recent municipal council resolution to proceed with the temporary road. He argued the money could have been better spent elsewhere, including building sidewalks in the industrial sector.

A small but vocal group of about five citizens have also criticized Hawa at recent council meetings for unnecessarily spending money on the road link that will be closed again next spring when work begins to build the T-intersection. Hawa was undeterred by the criticism, saying that finding a temporary solution to reopen westbound Exit 41 was part of her overall election campaign to permanently resolve the traffic situation in the area, when she announced her mayoral candidacy last November.

She added that the reopening will also bring back visitors to Ste. Anne’s village. Wintemute was unimpressed with Boudreault’s decision to vote against the temporary road. “As a councillor, your mandate is to be in a position to make objective decisions and to see the big picture,” he said.

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