Rampant highway entrance and exit closures might be frustrating for Montrealers, but not everyone’s complaining.
Kevin Chin, assistant manager at Cycle Technique on Atwater Blvd., said business saw a slight uptick on Saturday as cars were forced onto the roadway by detours following the closure of highway entrance ramps on Fort and Lucien L'Allier.
“There’s a lot more people walking in, I can see,” he said. “Honestly, more traffic is pretty good for us. Being on Atwater allows cars to stop by. They can stop by the shop, they can slow down and see us. It’s more eyes on us.”
It doesn’t hurt, he noted, for motorists stuck in traffic to see a store offering a different mode of transportation.
Rowntree Antiques owner Jennifer Rowntree said the traffic was visibly worse on Saturday and she couldn’t be happier.
“I can’t complain. I have two very big windows on Atwater. I always get people coming in and saying ‘I’ve been meaning to come in, I always see the windows,’” she said. “I think in the next couple of weeks there will be even more people coming in, because that’s a lot of cars.”
While a new entrance to the westbound highway will open on Rose de Lima, that will only happen on Monday. That leaves motorists stuck going through the city throughout the weekend, acknowledged City of Montreal spokesperson Philippe Sabourin, who noted traffic could get especially ugly after Saturday night’s Canadiens game at the Bell Centre.
“That’s going to be a challenge because they don’t have access anymore to the Lucien L’Allier ramps, so they have to follow the signs, respect the speed limits and of course our traffic lights,” he said.
Even with the Rose de Lima entrance opening, Sabourin acknowledged that Montreal drivers are in for a headache on Monday morning.
St-Henri city councillor Craig Sauve said he’s concerned about the traffic being detoured in the neighbourhood. Up to 5,000 cars per day are predicted to be detoured onto Atwater due to the roadwork. He urged motorists to look into public transit during the construction period.
“People in St. Henri have been dealing for a long time with the deconstruction and reconstruction of Turcot. It’s dust, it’s noise, it’s trucks on the streets when they’re not supposed to be. It’s been lot on the backs of the people in the Southwest (borough).”
He added the city has taken steps to try and mitigate the damage and ensure road safety. Twenty corners will be manned by police officers and Sauve said 35 sets of traffic lights have been synchronized.
“That’s a tremendous amount of energy that’s been put into trying to direct motorists out of the residential neighbourhoods,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Reseau de Transport Metropolitain said despite the prospect of more people trying to avoid traffic by taking public transit, additional trains will not be added to their routes.
“Our trains run on railways rights-of-way, which for the most part, do not belong to the RTM,” said Caroline Julie Fortin. “Therefore, we are not in a position to add departures on the train lines for a short or a longer period.”
Fortin added that the RTM runs several bus routes to circulate commuters in and out of Montreal and referred users to their website to best plan their public transit commute.