Letter to the editor 1, April 6, 2017

St. Lazare Roundabout vs traffic light – the other side of the story

Dear Editor,

As Councillor of District 4 in St. Lazare, my responsibilities concern the best interest of all of St. Lazaze and I was concerned by the local French paper’s publication of information to the population regarding the projected roundabout project vs traffic lights at the intersection of Bédard Avenue and Chemin St-Louis. Therefore, I proceeded to write a first letter with different information which was published on Change.org and a community website.

Following that, the town administration, in my presence among others, prepared a very professional presentation to review the estimates on hand as well as the points in my letter vs their published information. The result confirmed the following:

•The number of firms mandated to evaluate the two projects as well as the traffic situation in St. Lazare was only one, WSP previously known as Genivar, and not many firms as published. Mayor Robert Grimaudo stated that it was either human error or simply a misunderstanding of his comments. I also agree with the opinion of many people that more than one firm should be mandated to submit an evaluation of such projects.

•The estimated cost of a roundabout was published as $1.2 million. This was the initial estimated price in 2013 and the actual indexed estimated price is $1.68 million as estimated in the 2018 budget. Mayor Grimaudo stated that he did not realize that the price quoted was not the indexed price.

•The traffic lights’ installation was published as estimated to cost $600,000 more than a roundabout. This quote is correct but is based on a traffic light installation with added turning lanes and the move of a Hydro Quebec Massif which alone is estimated by HQ as being in excess of $360,000. The HQ electrical Massif crosses Chemin St-Louis and is travelled over on a daily basis by heavy vehicles thus making the need to move it questionable. People in the field report that they encounter such a situation regularly and see no need for a move. Also, a concerned citizen who has worked in the field of traffic light installation for over 40 years got estimates from two specialized firms and one, although partial but did cover the traffic light heads and control box, was estimated at $60,000 while another firm was estimated at $150,000 to $250,000 for a complete installation with two heads for each direction as per MTQ regulations but did not include the addition of turning lanes.

•Many construction projects taking place in St. Lazare are the reason for the planning of a roundabout at that intersection because of the inevitable traffic growth generated by this situation. The construction boom is taking place mostly in the east end of the town as well as the downtown sector where the camp site used to be. The traffic growth, already showing signs of happening, is in the east end and downtown rather than that intersection.

The main street in the downtown section is not capable of handling the anticipated 2000 more vehicles that will need to use it for shopping purposes. Therefore, the business section of the town could lose a lot of shoppers who will choose to go elsewhere because of traffic problems. This is, in my view and the view of many people, the right priority that should be addressed immediately and not the intersection in question. A proper traffic light with motion sensor is a good enough solution for a few years to come and at a very low cost, thus allowing over $2 million of budget to address a much more important priority.

Marc-André Esculier

District 4 Councillor

St. Lazare