• John Jantak

Vaudreuil-Dorion overpass closure could last up to five years says mayor


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Detour signs and traffic cones at the intersection of Chemin Dumberry and Chemin des Chenaux prevent motorists from driving across the Chemin des Chenaux bridge over Highway 40. Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon said the bridge could be closed to traffic for up to five years.

Motorists who regularly used the Chemin des Chenaux Bridge before it was closed in late summer could be in for a long wait before it reopens. It may take at least five years before the necessary repairs to make the bridge safe again are completed, according to Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon.

No work has been planned by the Ministry of Transport for next year, he said. “We’re sure the bridge is going to be kept closed in 2019. If it’s a repair that has to be done, at best it’ll happen by 2020. If the bridge has to be replaced, it could take until 2022 or 2023. It’s nonsense,” Pilon told The Journal during a telephone interview on December 4.

Untimely closure

It may not be a major artery but its untimely closure for safety concerns by the provincial Ministry of Transport on September 18 this year has made travel around nearby residential neighbourhoods and the commercial district in the southeastern sector of the city – and the commercial and industrial districts in the northeastern sectors – more difficult.

The des Chenaux Bridge is the first overpass motorists encounter when they drive westbound across the Île aux Tourtes Bridge from the West Island into Vaudreuil-Dorion. The turnoff at Exit 36 gives drivers the option of either proceeding straight along Chemin Dumberry or making a U-turn and turning either right or left turn onto des Chenaux.

Major inconvenience

A left turn north brings drivers into a quiet residential area. A right turn south took motorists over the bridge that crosses Highway 40.

Drivers then had the option of turning west onto Boulevard de la Cité des Jeunes – a major two-lane commercial stretch of road that doubles as a service road by connecting motorists to the Highway 40 east on-ramp just before the boulevard intersects with des Chenaux.

Motorists could also continue southwest along a portion of des Chenaux that runs along Vaudreuil Bay and access one of several residential side streets or continue to Avenue St. Charles. While the bridge isn’t a major artery like the bridge at St. Charles that also crosses Highway 40, its closure is a major inconvenience.

Traffic increase

It means that motorists who would usually get off at exit 36 and use the des Chenaux Bridge to cross over to the southeast side of Highway 40, now have to continue until the next exit, cross the Avenue St. Charles bridge and double back to get to their original destination which increases traffic congestion in the area.

Pilon is dismayed about the long timeframe to repair the des Chenaux Bridge, saying it also took a long time to complete the required work to extend the life of the Île aux Tourtes Bridge. “We’re caught by the provincial governmental machine – studies, approval and money,” he said.

“It’s amazing how long it can take to repair something.” said Pilon. “Now we have the same thing with the little overpass near Chateau Vaudreuil. It will take a long time but at least they repaired the Île-aux-Tourtes. I hope those repairs are over. It means we now have three full lanes going east and west. Traffic won’t be any worse than it is now.”

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

News that the Transport Ministry has given the l’Île-aux-Tourtes Bridge (above) replacement project the green-light was somewhat tempered by the news that the small but significant nearby Chemin des Chenaux Bridge will be closed for at least the next five years.

New Île-aux-Tourtes Bridge

As reported back in July, 2018 Liberal MNA Marie-Claude Nichols said the provincial Ministry of Transport (MTQ) confirmed the replacement of the over 50-year-old bridge and was in the process of determining on which side of the existing structure the new span was going to be.

“Eighty-eight per cent of the MTQ budget is for the active maintenance of roads and bridges like the l’Île-aux-Tourtes Bridge,” Nichols said at the time. The new bridge will be wider than the existing structure with lanes dedicated to public transport to support the rapidly growing off-island population. Following the up-to six-year planning stage, the estimated five-year construction project would have the new bridge in service by 2030.

Mayor Pilon said he’s pleased about the news despite the length of time the project is expected to take.

“There will be a reserved lane for buses, and probably for taxis and cars that have more than one passenger,” said Pilon.

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