Proposed St. Lazare traffic circle continues to draw flak from residents
YLJ FILE PHOTO/CARMEN MARIE FABIO
Some St. Lazare residents and at least one councillor are opposing the idea of installing a roundabout to counter rush hour traffic on Bédard Avenue near the intersection of Chemin St-Louis.
The proposed construction of a traffic roundabout at the intersection of Avenue Bédard and Chemin St. Louis continued to swirl in controversy during question period at the Tuesday evening council meeting, April 4, as resident Michel Lambert submitted a petition with over 100 signatures from citizens opposed to the project.
The second petition comes almost three weeks after District 4 Councillor Marc-André Esculier started an online petition that had registered almost 250 names. At issue is what would be the most cost-effective solution to improve the flow of rush hour traffic at the intersection of Chemin St. Louis and Avenue Bédard - a traffic circle or traffic lights.
Mayor Robert Grimaudo said it was determined that a traffic circle was the least expensive option and would save the town $600,000 compared to the installation of a traffic light. The town has already put in a reserve to purchase four corner lots for the roundabout and could be liable to compensate the landowners if the reserves are withdrawn.
Loan by-law registry signing
Grimaudo said even though the town is considering the roundabout, no final decision has been made as to whether the project will be approved. It will be up to the residents to determine its outcome through a registry signing after a loan by-law is adopted at a future council meeting. If enough signatures are registered, the proposal would then go to a referendum.
“I don’t understand what the big storm is about,” Grimaudo told Your Local Journal. “I don’t get it. We spent $9 million on a water filtration plant and no one batted an eye. We budget $300,000 for buying land for the potential roundabout and its become the storm of the century. What we’re being asked to do right now, which in my opinion makes very little sense, is to put up a wire and stick a traffic light in the middle.”
The town’s Director General Serge Tremblay said a 2005 study concluded that even though Exit 26 along Autoroute 40 didn’t exist at the time, the town’s proposal to put in a traffic light would not be adequate to deal with the expected growth in traffic in the area and a roundabout would be the best solution.
Esculier still feels the town is misguided in its determination to stick with the roundabout proposal, saying the focus should be on finding a solution to increasing traffic density in the downtown core along Chemin Ste. Angélique as more people move into the new, nearby housing developments.
A recent media report about the city having conducted several studies related to the roundabout and traffic situation was raised by resident Alan Nicol and immediately dismissed as being inaccurate by Grimaudo. “I know how I was quoted. I said we consulted firms. I didn’t say we consulted many firms. I’ll be more careful the next time I speak to journalists. It’s a good thing that John (Your Local Journal) doesn’t make mistakes like that.”
Council later approved a resolution during its regular session to a release the report regarding the budget costs of the roundabout. When Nicol suggested the town could use its accumulated surplus to pay for the project, Grimaudo replied, “The likelihood of that happening is next to none.
“When it’s not for emergency measures or very serious problems, I don’t think there’s one councillor that would accept using the surplus as a way of payment without consulting the population. I can’t speak for anybody else at this table but for myself, and unless it deals with public security or if people’s health is in danger, only then would we would go to the surplus to take care of it quickly,” said Grimaudo.