• John Jantak

Ste. Marie access road along Highway 40 west will be closed during afternoon rush hour


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Residents along a small stretch of Chemin Ste. Marie have put up barricades in front of their driveways to prevent motorists from making U-turns on their properties to access Boulevard des Anciens-Combattants.

The access road that connects to Chemin St. Marie from the westbound Highway 40 service road at Exit 41 will be closed on weekday afternoons from 3 to 6:30 p.m. beginning Monday, June 15, to alleviate the large amount of traffic on a small stretch of the two-lane residential roadway for the past week. Mayor Paola Hawa made the announcement to Your Local Journal during an interview on what steps the city would take to reduce traffic after the westbound connection to Boulevard des Anciens-Combattants was closed last Thursday for the construction and configuration of a new T-intersection.

Resident James Morris was one of four homeowners who complained to Hawa during the Monday evening council meeting that the closure has resulted in a minimum of over 1,000 vehicles turning east onto Chemin St. Marie each weekday. Motorists have been driving up the steep, curving and narrow stretch of road to make illegal U-turns at the intersection of Chemin des Pins which leads to the Morgan Arboretum and John Abbott College. Some drivers have even pulled into the residential driveways before the intersection to make U-turns, aggravating homeowners to the point where they erected their own barricades. Morris said the lack of consideration on the part of motorists is not only frustrating, he feels it will eventually result in a serious accident that may eventually injure or kill someone.

He added the detour signs that advise motorists to continue along the service road to the Senneville loop-around to access Boulevard des Anciens-Combattants are too small, ineffective and are being ignored. The heavy volume of vehicles, which includes semi-tractor trailers and STM buses, is disintegrating an old stone wall on one residential property to the point it is about to collapse, said Morris. He added that residents often can’t even cross the street to retrieve their mail from the community mailboxes because of the constant traffic.

The temporary daily weekday closure was a suitable alternative that would give the homeowners on that stretch of road some relief, said Hawa. Morris and the other homeowners had called for the complete closure of eastbound Ste. Marie which Hawa dismissed as being impractical saying that many people use the road to access the Morgan Arboretum, Ecomuseum Zoo, the college and McGill University.

“That would be an extreme measure that we’re not ready to implement yet,” said Hawa. “We want to try new detour signs and ask the police to increase their presence to do a big safety blitz and give out lots of tickets to the irresponsible drivers who are making u-turns. The police were there last week and handed out numerous tickets. Then as soon as they leave, it starts all over again. The weekday afternoon closure should help bring relief.”

The impact of how the current traffic situation is affecting homeowners highlights why the city decided to build a temporary access road last fall to connect to Boulevard des Anciens-Combattants at a cost of $46,000 prior to the construction of the T-intersection, said Hawa. Several area residents objected to the town spending money on the temporary road at the time, including District 6 Councillor Michel Boudreault, who voted against the project at a council session.

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