• John Jantak

Vaudreuil-Dorion decision to remove freight train speed limit signs disappoints residents


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

A recent decision made by the City of Vaudreuil-Dorion to remove three 40 km/h speed limit signs posted along the Canadian Pacific (CP) freight train corridor that travels through the Rivière de la Cité district has disappointed at least a couple of residents. Michel Girard who lives behind the CP rail line on Rue du Ruisselet said he only found out that the signs were removed after he contacted the city’s administration by email one month ago to ask whether anyone knew why there was a sudden increase in the speed of freight trains.

“I noticed the trains were going faster and faster and I began to wonder why they are going by so fast,” Girard told Your Local Journal. “That’s when I looked and noticed the signs were no longer there.” The signs were mounted on large wooden poles and erected on city property adjacent to the rail line at the east and west entrances to the city in late July 2013, almost three weeks after the Lac-Mégantic oil-tanker train derailment that decimated the Eastern Townships community. Girard questions the logic behind the city’s decision considering the signs had a positive effect on getting most trains to slow down as they travelled through the densely populated residential area.

“There was an almost immediate reduction in the speed of the trains after they were posted,” Girard said. “It was very noticeable. My house would shake less and there was less noise pollution. All the residents in the area noticed it.” Mayor Guy Pilon said one reason for the removal was because the signs had become weather-beaten and were difficult to see. He added that after almost two years, the signs were losing their effectiveness in getting engineers to slow down their trains.

“After a while, every sign becomes a part of the landscape and I don’t think they see the signs anymore,” said Pilon. “You have to change strategies.” City council passed a resolution in 2013 asking CP to reduce the speed of their freight trains and is hopeful they will eventually comply with the request. Pilon said if the situation doesn’t improve, the city will reconsider their decision and repost the signs.

Pam Sidhu-Mahal, who lives about 500 meters away from the rail line, said she’s also noticed an increase in noise and vibrations that she directly attributes to the sign removal. “I’ve been living with this issue for a very long time,” said Sidhu-Mahal.

“I think it’s disrespectful to the citizens for the city to have removed them without at least advising us. Obviously it worked to a certain degree so I don’t know why they would take them down when it didn’t cost the city anything to have the signs posted.

“By taking them down, it shows that the city is not really on our side,” Sidhu-Mahal added. “It’s the same if you have 40 km/h signs in residential areas and 30km/h signs in school zones. If you take them down, then you would wonder why people aren’t following the speed limit. We need speed limit signs for the trains too.

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