Montreal's traffic czar predicts summer commuting is going to be hellish
Published Thursday, June 8, 2017 4:44PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 8, 2017 6:33PM EDT
Pierre Lacasse says Montrealers may be stunned by the amount of construction planned for the rest of the year.
Six weeks ago the city of Montreal hired former traffic reporter Pierre Lacasse as its new traffic co-ordinator.
His job is to oversee construction work and detours so that drivers don't wind up going in circles as they navigate their way through Montreal.
But now, Lacasse said drivers may be stunned by the amount of work planned for the rest of the year.
"It's going to be hell. Well not necessarily the hell, but we have to do it. It's going to be difficult for sure," said Lacasse.
The budget for repair work being done on city streets and subterranean infrastructure grew to $1.8 billion this year, with major projects planned to begin on Ste. Catherine St. and Plaza St. Hubert.
That budget is going to grow again in the next two years, with more than $2.2 billion budgeted for 2018, and a higher amount the following year.
This work is necessary due to decades of neglect and improper repairs.
"The good news is somebody took the decison to make those roadworks for the next ten years," said Lacasse. "We are working very hard to make sure there will not be any completely shut down roads. At least one lane open to make the situation fluid."
Lacasse isn't responsible for highways and bridges -- those are largely under provincial jurisdiction -- but he believes traffic jams won't end unless drivers give up their cars and turn to public transit.
"There's nothing to do with highways and bridges. We have to build new ones," said Lacasse, referring to the construction of the new Champlain Bridge, and the work that caused delays earlier this week on the Mercier Bridge.
Municipal traffic critic Craig Sauvé was not pleased to hear Lacasse's pessimistic outlook.
"Montreal is at a near-crisis level in terms of traffic and transport. We've seen studies in the past, we've seen an AMT study even suggesting we're losing $1.5 billion--with a 'B'--due to traffic," said the Projet Montreal councillor.
Lacasse said the work will continue for years, but will eventually reward those who are patient.
"In ten years from now everybody will be proud of the town. In ten years, yes, but we have to do it."