• John Jantak

Vaudreuil-Dorion calls for provincial investigation regarding Highway 40 closure


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon is calling on the provincial Ministries of Public Security and Transport to launch an investigation into how the closure of Highway 40 East during morning rush hour traffic on February 26 negatively impacted traffic throughout the municipality and neighbouring region.

The closure of eastbound Autoroute 40 during the morning rush hour late last month because of a police operation in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue prompted Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon and municipal council to unanimously adopt a resolution at the Monday evening council meeting on March 19 demanding the provincial government investigate the matter.

Pilon said motorists had to contend with a “horrible” situation during the morning rush hour commute on Monday, February 26 as a result of the closure that caused unprecedented traffic gridlock throughout several off-island municipalities as traffic was rerouted to Highway 20 east.

Traffic nightmare

Autoroute 40 was closed for about 12 hours near Boulevard des Anciens-Combattants in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue following an overnight shooting and police chase that involved the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM). It reopened around 10 a.m. said Pilon.

“Everything was blocked, even in Pointe-des-Cascades and Île-Perrot. Everyone was late – employees, ambulances, buses, firefighters, first-responders, daycare centres, schools. People were trying to go around it, but it was impossible,” Pilon told The Journal.

THE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO/JIM HUGHES

Eastbound traffic on Highway 40 on Monday morning, February 26 was diverted to Highway 20 following a police chase 12 hours earlier that ended in the suspect’s car being pinned against a concrete highway divider. The driver headed through Vaudreuil-Dorion before abruptly turn­ing around and heading east. The chase ended after being rammed by a police cruiser in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. Highway 40 eastbound remained closed between boulevard des Anciens-Combattants and Chemin Sainte-Marie until around 10 a.m. leading to a chaotic rush hour.

“This is nonsense for me. The police created more problems than they solved. Can you imagine if there was another emergency situation? Everything was blocked,” said Pilon.

About 38,000 people use Autoroute 40 east to travel to Montreal each weekday morning, said Pilon. If the highway is closed for whatever reason, it causes traffic chaos throughout Vaudreuil-Dorion and neighbouring municipalities.

Highway 20 can’t handle overflow

During a closure, motorists try to scramble onto Boulevard Harwood (Highway 20) to reach the Galipeault Bridge, the only other off-island bridge that crosses onto the Island of Montreal from Île-Perrot.

The problem is that not only do drivers have to deal with several traffic lights on Highway 20 through Vaudreuil-Dorion and Île-Perrot, they also have to contend with many of the island’s more than 35,000 residents who live in the municipalities of Île-Perrot, Notre-Dame-de-l’île-Perrot, Pincourt and Terrasse-Vaudreuil who also use Highway 20 to get to Montreal.

Pilon said he has been trying to persuade the provincial government for the past several years to complete the long-awaited transformation of this stretch of Highway 20 into a full-fledged autoroute which would help ease traffic congestion. The Municipalité Régionale de Comté (MRC) de Vaudreuil-Soulanges has also been pushing the provincial government to complete the autoroute.

“The 20 cannot take all that traffic,” said Pilon. “This is why we’ve been telling the government to finish Highway 20. This way when something happens on the 40, it will help.”

Closure was bad decision

Pilon also doesn’t understand why it took so long for the police to conduct their investigation and whether it was necessary to close all three lanes on Highway 40. He feels the police could have done their investigation in a timelier manner and used other resources at their disposal.

“We’re a bit fed up because this isn’t the first time they decided to close the road. It’s obviously a main road but they took their time. They did this during rush hour. It was horrible. The road was closed for over 12 hours and they didn’t provide any help. If they close the road, they should provide officers to direct traffic,” said Pilon.

“We’re telling the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) to change their procedure. They created more problems than they solved. If they have to close the highway, then provide the personnel we need for traffic control. We need them to help with the traffic lights, stop signs and to direct traffic properly,” Pilon added.

A copy of the resolution was sent to Vaudreuil Liberal MNA Marie-Claude Nichols, Soulanges Liberal MNA Lucie Charlebois, the provincial Ministries of Transport and Public Security, the two regional SQ detachments, the MRC de Vaudreuil-Soulanges and neighbouring regional municipal mayors whose towns’ residents were affected.

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