• John Jantak

Population growth presents transportation infrastructure challenges for Vaudreuil-Soulanges


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard (centre), Vaudreuil Liberal MNA Marie-Claude Nichols (left) and Soulanges Liberal MNA Lucie Charlebois (right) at the water treatment facility at the Paul-Gérin-Lajoie Training Centre in Vaudreuil-Dorion on Friday, March 23.

The transformation of Highway 20 into a full-fledged autoroute without traffic lights is envisioned as part of an overall transportation strategy that will include the continuing expansion of the region’s public transit services to meet increasing demand over the coming years, Quebec Premier Liberal Philippe Couillard told The Journal.

Couillard made the comment during a press conference for local media last Friday, March 23, following a tour of the water treatment facility at the Paul-Gérin-Lajoie Training Centre in Vaudreuil-Dorion, which is offered by the Commission scolaire des Trois-Lacs. Regional Liberal MNAs Lucie Charlebois (Soulanges) and Marie-Claude Nichols (Vaudreuil) were also present.

The pledge to upgrade the region’s existing road infrastructure comes after Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon recently called for a provincial government investigation into the morning rush-hour closure of east-bound Highway 40 on February 26 which snarled traffic and negatively affected several neighbouring municipalities.

Highway 20 completion

Pilon has also called on the province to complete the section of Highway 20 that runs through Île-Perrot and Dorion. He said a properly completed highway without traffic lights would help to ease traffic problems whenever major road closures happen.

More people are moving to Vaudreuil-Soulanges as the region continues to grow and prosper, Couillard acknowledged. The downside is that traffic congestion is steadily increasing. While part of the answer is to improve the road infrastructure, public transportation enhancements also have to be factored into the equation, he added.

“Highway 20 has to be upgraded but you can’t address highway traffic only with new roads. It’s only postponing the problem. You’ll still have the same jams only they’re pushed a little bit further away. We have to take into consideration what we want to do with public transit at the same time. For example, will there be dedicated lanes for buses on Highway 20?” said Couillard.

The province is also working with local municipalities and preparing road upgrades for the new Vaudreuil-Soulanges regional hospital that is expected to be built by 2026, said Couillard.

“Work is being done to adjust the road infrastructure for the hospital. Just think about the number of ambulances that will be going there. A 400-bed hospital is big. It will generate a lot of traffic. Ambulances will be coming and going, plus there will be visitors and employees,” Couillard said.

Hospital expansion

The region’s population growth is also the reason why the provincial government decided to expand the size of the Vaudreuil-Soulanges Hospital prior to construction, said Charlebois, Minister for Rehabilitation, Youth Protection, Public Health and Healthy Living.

“We changed it for 400 beds because if we had decided to go ahead with a 200-bed hospital as originally planned, the building would eventually have had to be enlarged to accommodate the increasing population,” said Charlebois.

Couillard noted that Pierre-Le Gardeur Hospital in Terrebonne has serious overcrowding issues that now have to be addressed. “It’s a modern facility that was built a few years ago. It’s already bursting at the seams,” he said.

Charlebois, Nichols and André Fortin, the Minister of Transport, Sustainable Mobility and Transport Electrification, recently met with St. Lazare Mayor Robert Grimaudo and Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon to discuss their transportation issues related to the hospital.

“We spoke about their suggestions they made to the Minister,” said Charlebois. “We’re working a lot on this file but we’re also working with Martin Coiteux, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, regarding drinking water and waste water for the region. This is another important issue that was a part of our thinking when we started to study the hospital project.”

Water treatment training program

Water was an item that was readily on tap as Couillard, Charlebois and Nichols toured the Paul-Gérin-Lajoie Training Centre and got a first-hand look at the water management and treatment program at the facility, which is renowned as being a unique, one-of-a-kind program in Canada.

Couillard touted the program as an excellent opportunity for interested applicants who want to work in a high-demand field with excellent remuneration upon graduation and throughout their careers. “Parents should know their kids can get $70,000 a year when they graduate,” he said. “This is a base salary with no overtime. It’s unbelievable. And each graduate will have two or three job offers.”

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