Ste. Anne’s weekday rush hour left-turn ban onto Highway 20 west now includes buses


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Westbound motorists can expect more traffic disruptions as all vehicles, now including buses, will be prohibited from turning left onto the Highway 20 West onramp from the Saint-Pierre Street north underpass from 4 to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday beginning Monday, September 17.

Buses are now part of the ban that will prohibit vehicles from turning left to get onto the Galipeault Bridge via westbound onramp from the Saint-Pierre Street north underpass in Ste. Anne de Bellevue. The ban will be enforced on weekday afternoons from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. beginning next Monday, September 17. Emergency vehicles will be exempted.

Two movable barriers have been installed to prevent motorists from driving into the left-hand turn lane. A mobile electronic billboard at the intersection before the underpass is advising motorists to take Highway 20 east to Morgan Street in neighbouring Baie d’Urfé, where they will be able to loop around the underpass and reconnect to Highway 20 West.

Additional restrictions

Additional traffic restrictions also will take effect on Monday. Signs will be installed that will prohibit left-hand turns from Anciens-Combattants Boulevard north onto Rue Demers and from Garden City Avenue onto Demers during the afternoon rush hour.

Police will be on site to deal with drivers who try to circumvent the detour by heading north along Anciens-Combattants and trying make a U-turn back onto the boulevard from the train station, Ste. Anne’s Hospital and the Valacta Dairy Production Centre parking lot.

“I suspect that next week is probably going to be very monumental,” said Ste. Anne’s Mayor Paola Hawa. “I think it will take a few months for people to settle in and understand the new reality. People will have to change their habits as everybody adapts and tries to find alternate routes. I spoke to the commander of the police and they’re ready to enforce the rules.”

Emergency response delays

The ban is being put in place to ease traffic congestion in the south sector of the city. Gridlock is causing unprecedented safety concerns for residents. Mayor Hawa and city councillors are concerned emergency crews will face serious delays responding to situations in and around the village.

“We have an entire area that is held hostage for hours because of the traffic,” said Hawa of the rush hour exodus from the Macdonald and John Abbott Colleges. The latter campus is also a popular shortcut for Highway 40 westbound motorists seeking to avoid the backlog at the lights onto the Galipeault on Anciens-Combattants southbound. “We can’t keep on going like this. It makes no sense. We have to find some kind of mitigation measure. We’re doing what we can within the confines of our jurisdiction.”

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Barricades underneath the Galipeault Bridge have been in place for weeks in anticipation of the September 17 no-left-turn rule during evening rush hour.

Provincial action needed

The ban is also intended to send a message to the province that something has to be done to deal with the worsening traffic situation on Highway 20, said Hawa. “The large solution belongs to the provincial government and I certainly hope that they step up to the plate and do what should have been 20 years ago,” she said.

Plans to complete Highway 20 and make it a full-fledged highway with off-ramps in lieu of traffic lights were touted since the early 1960s. The most recent completion proposal was announced around 2010 but was never followed through. Vaudreuil MNA Marie-Claude Nichols recently said it could be at least another seven years before any work begins on Highway 20.

Worsening traffic

The traffic situation on Highway 20, which is currently regarded as an urban boulevard, is worsening as more people move to off-island municipalities.

“We can’t keep going on like this,” said Hawa. “The provincial politicians can no longer put their heads in the sand. They actually have to do something. They have to act.

“It’s not about holding a little committee meeting after a four year mandate that’s going to solve the problem,” said Hawa. “My question is, ‘What have you done and where have you been for three-and-a-half years? I would hope this time the whole issue of Highway 20 is in their capital budget and is their priority.”

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