• John Jantak

Highway 20 project completion could ease Ste. Anne’s traffic gridlock


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Traffic turning onto the Highway 20 West on-ramp from Boulevard des Anciens-Combattants in Ste. Anne’s has become increasingly congested. Mayor Paola Hawa said Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue is considering joining the coalition of municipal mayors from the Municipalité Régionale de Comté (MRC) de Vaudreuil-Soulanges to pressure the provincial government to complete the proposed Highway 20 project.

The completion of Highway 20 could help reduce the persistent traffic backlog that occurs regularly during the afternoon rush hour commute near the intersection of Boulevard des Anciens-Combattants South and the westbound entrance to the highway, said Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa.

The traffic issue was raised by resident Michel Belleau during question period at the Monday evening council meeting on April 9. Belleau told Station 1 Police Chief Martin Bernier that many motorists wait until the last minute to merge into the right lane just before the turnoff onto Highway 20 westbound.

Traffic backlog

This often causes a backlog of vehicles in the left lane which is reserved for through traffic only for motorists who are either turning onto Highway 20 East or travelling straight into the village, said Belleau. He asked Bernier whether he was aware of the situation and if the police could do something to ease the congestion.

Bernier replied that two people recently called the station to complain about the problem. He added that two officers will be assigned to monitor the traffic flow. The findings will be evaluated to determine the best approach to take.

The long-awaited completion of Highway 20 that would transform it into a major roadway without traffic lights would be the best solution, said Hawa. “This is what’s holding everything up. All these people are turning onto the highway and then you have the traffic lights once you get onto Île-Perrot that stops the traffic flow,” said Hawa.

“It’s getting to the point where I’m becoming very concerned because when there’s an incident on the 20, it backs into the village. There were times where traffic couldn’t even move for two hours,” Hawa added.

Fire safety concerns

The constant gridlock around Boulevard des Anciens-Combattants could seriously impede and delay emergency vehicles if they have to respond to an emergency situation in the village and surrounding area, said Hawa. The city’s fire station is located on the west side of the boulevard near Highway 40.

“Our civil security started an evaluation about two weeks ago regarding the risk level by having all these streets clogged. If there was a fire in the village which has a lot of old wooden structures, the fire trucks wouldn’t be able to get there, that’s pretty much for sure. It’s a matter of safety and security at this point,” said Hawa.

Municipal coalition

One option the city is exploring is to join the coalition of municipalities with the Municipalité Régionale de Comté (MRC) de Vaudreuil-Soulanges. “We need to sit down at the table and come up with a common front to pressure the provincial government to complete the highway,” said Hawa.

Mayor Guy Pilon, in the neighbouring off-island municipality of Vaudreuil-Dorion, has been a long-time advocate for the completion of the highway saying it would help to ease traffic woes in his city.

Vaudreuil-Dorion city council recently adopted a resolution calling for an investigation into the morning rush-hour closure of Highway 40 East in late February that caused traffic chaos throughout the region because of a police incident in Ste. Anne’s.

Question period time limit

Mayor Hawa reiterated at the start of the council meeting that question period will be limited to a maximum of 30 minutes. Each person will have a five minute time limit to ask one question which will include the response from council.

Reading from a prepared statement, Hawa said the rules will be strictly enforced to prevent “personal attacks, insinuations, and the inappropriate use of violent language” directed towards council. Director General Martin Bonhomme acted as council’s timekeeper during question period and informed Hawa when the four minute mark and five minute limit were reached.

The limits are necessary to prevent people from abusing the question period process, said Hawa. “Pretty much 90 per cent of the people we met during the election campaign who had a comment about the council sessions all had the same complaint,” she said.

“There’s a small group of people that monopolize the conversation. They take up way too much time. The atmosphere is way too negative, insulting and attacking. People are really, really upset about it. We have to do something to change it,” said Hawa.

“It’s not just one person’s right to speak. It’s every person’s right to speak. People are staying away from council meetings because of this atmosphere. I got another call this morning from someone who said this is ridiculous. They don’t want to come to meetings anymore so we have to do something,” added Hawa.

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