• James Armstrong

Finding solutions for Oka-Hudson Ferry traffic problems


PHOTOGRAPH BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

The Oka-Hudson Ferry provides a seasonal link for vehicular and pedestrian traffic across the Ottawa River but has become a victim of its own popularity.

Traffic congestion caused by lineups for the Oka-Hudson Ferry near the intersection of Main Road and Bellevue Street in the east end of Hudson came up for discussion during the recent town council meeting held Monday, June 4. Council approved spending $10,000 to become partners in a study to establish possible solutions to the traffic congestion problems and identify partners for their implementation.

Benefit of the study

When asked why the town should become involved in regulating the traffic situation and the study, Mayor Jamie Nicholls said the study would make the case for dealing with the situation at the provincial level.

“Initially, it was going to be $15,000 but council was not comfortable with that amount. It is something that will benefit the Town of Hudson if we can regulate the problem with other partners at the provincial level,” said Nicholls. According to the resolution, there would be four partners in the study; two unnamed, the town and Traverse Oka Inc. Resident Marcus Owen emphasized that Transports Québec should be made responsible for finding a solution to the problem.

“The government has said that the ferry was an integral part of our highway system in this province,” said Owen pointing out that lineups of vehicles waiting for the ferry on Main Road and those exiting the ferry can pose a serious hazard.

“The study will be strong evidence to the MTQ of solving the situation, of meeting their words with action,” replied Nicholls adding that most of the work would be done by the ferry company rather than the Town of Hudson.

Study timeline

“We are waiting for a response from the other two partners,” said Claude Desjardins, owner of Traverse Oka Inc. in an interview on Monday, June 11. Desjardins declined to name the other partners. He described the need for the study as urgent.

“We are aware of the traffic problems and the need to find solutions,” said Desjardins. “There are approximately 40 days in the season when there are critical traffic problems,” he said.

Peak traffic periods in Hudson occur in the evenings and in Oka, the terminal on the opposite shore, in the mornings. He noted that ferry traffic had been increasing steadily since the opening of Highway 30.

“More and more, people are moving to the periphery of Montreal and we are quickly reaching our capacity,” he said. Weekends are also high traffic periods especially in the autumn with apple harvest taking place in the orchards of Hudson and Oka.

Ideally, the study would take place throughout the entire 2018 season, according to Desjardins.

“It needs to cover all of the different types of clientele we receive,” he said adding that having detailed knowledge of how the ferry service meets the needs of its customers would be useful in finding solutions. Desjardins said the study would cost $45,000 and would be carried out by a consulting firm that has done work for his company in the past.

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