Hudson ferry traffic fuels frustration
PHOTO BY JACOB ROLOFF
Hudson residents who were recently hit with a $300 fine for trying to circumvent the lineup of traffic waiting for the Oka/Hudson ferry are reaching out to others who have incurred similar fines, while both the Hudson mayor and ferry operators defend their positions on the traffic backlogs.
Resident Matthew Brecknock has had it with the traffic situation at the Hudson side of the Hudson/Oka ferry. The lineup of cars waiting for the ferry frequently backs up onto the roads, particularly on sunny weekends, causing traffic snarls and long wait times for motorists trying to get by the area of Main Road and Bellevue Street.
On the afternoon of Friday, October 11 traffic was typically backed up. Brecknock and his wife were attempting to get through the area, when his wife (driving at the time) saw a town employee on the roadside ahead, pulled out to bypass the line and continue on her way.
When the couple got to where the employee was standing, they were surprised to see a Sûreté du Québec (SQ) officer standing next to her, issuing tickets. The driver was handed a ticket for $300, which also came with a penalty of three demerit points.
“We thought the town employee was there to direct traffic and wave people through,” said Brecknock, “but instead they were with the SQ pointing out cars that had crossed the line so they could be given tickets. We had to wait for the officer because she had issued so many tickets that she literally ran out of paper. The officer was on the road taking pictures of cars to issue tickets to later. It felt like a complete abuse of the system.”
‘It’s getting worse’
The traffic problem is not a new one. The town of Hudson has made efforts in the past with putting up signs and having employees on hand at peak times to help smooth congestion. Says Brecknock, “In my 30 years I’ve never seen that. We’ve had the police there before, but they were there to help with traffic and let people off with warnings, because they know it’s been a problem for a long time and it’s getting worse.
“I’d suggest opening up Rue Sanderson for cars,” said Brecknock. The road is currently blocked to traffic at the bottom end directly across from the ferry. “It would inconvenience a few homeowners, but it would get rid of the traffic problem for all the people who are just trying to pass through.”
Brecknock called the Town of Hudson to air his dissatisfaction with the situation. “They returned my call. That was good. But they basically told me there was nothing they could do and we shouldn’t have crossed the line.”
Feedback from the mayor
The Journal contacted Hudson Mayor Jamie Nicholls, who said work done with a designated ferry committee in 2018 was able to address medium and long-term solutions but not for the short term.
“Council this year decided to take a different tack,” Nicholls told The Journal. “We decided we would enforce the by-laws in that area – no stopping and no driving into the oncoming lane. At the same time, we met with the owner of the ferry and proposed a range of solutions.”
Nicholls said the town was willing to purchase an empty lot or use public property and lease it to the ferry operator to help with the traffic overflow but he declined.
“He refused to enter into any sort of financial arrangement with the town,” said Nicholls. “The town is not going to subsidize a private business. The ferry owner is not willing to take responsibility for anything that happens off his property.”
Feedback from the ferry operator
Reached at his office, Traverse Oka-Hudson owner Claude Desjardins said his lot already holds the equivalent of three ferry rides and expanding it would mean people would be waiting in excess of 55 minutes.
“At that point,” Desjardins said, “you’re better off to take Highway 40 or Highway 13.”
Desjardins said he is subject to all the same rules and regulations as provincially owned and operated ferry systems and if there’s a line-up of traffic, it’s due to the increased population growth in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region and its road networks, construction, and accidents. “It’s easy to blame the ferry for the number of cars,” he said. “It’s a simplistic analysis of the situation. When there’s traffic blockage one way, it has to come out another way. I’m not going to take responsibility for the number of cars on the road.”
THE JOURNAL FILE PHOTO/CARMEN MARIE FABIO
No-stopping signs along Main Road have alleviated some of the traffic issues of motorists waiting for the Hudson/Oka ferry crossing but drivers have now migrated over to Bellevue Street to the frustration of local residents.
Problem larger than one corner
Though Nicholls said the east/west flow of traffic on Main Road has improved, Bellevue Street has now become the waiting area for the ferry. Although the traffic flow is not necessarily heavier this year than others, Nicholls speculates the popularity of certain cell phone navigation apps may be bringing new drivers to the area.
Desjardins expressed sympathy for the local residents but says the problem is larger than just the corner of Main and Bellevue. He added that this year, certain apps including Waze and Google maps have added a feature that indicates a traffic backup at the ferry ramp with a red line.
“The citizens of Hudson expect us to take action so that’s what we’ve been doing,” said Nicholls. “Until (the ferry owner) decides to work with us, we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing now – trying to keep the roadway free of traffic, and to ensure drivers in those areas obey the road signs and by-laws.”
Invitation to contest ticket
Brecknock still feels like they didn’t deserve a ticket, given that it’s a well-established problem, and they’d been waved through in the past.
“We’re going to fight the ticket.” Brecknock invites anyone who got a ticket that day and also wishes to contest it to reach out to him at email@example.com.