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'The problem is now!' Opposition calling on Montreal to fix airport traffic gridlock

City of Montreal opposition city councillor and St. Laurent borough Mayor Alan DeSousa says the time is now to find solutions to the incredible amount of traffic around the airport.

Those heading to or from the Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport have witnessed massive gridlock and delays going and coming from the terminals. Some travellers have resorted to getting out of their vehicles and hoofing the final hundred-odd metres with suitcases and sometimes children in tow.

"It's very dangerous," said DeSousa. "Extremely dangerous, and I don't think anyone in their right mind would want to take a chance at driving to the airport at this stage in the game."

Traffic watchdog Rick Leckner told CTV News that the unsavoury traffic soup around the airport is the result of several bad ingredients.

"Too many people, too little planning, too little roadway, too little access to the departure level of the airport; it's a recipe for disaster that is now unfolding," he said.

DeSousa said he called on Valerie Plante's Projet Montreal administration to make some calls and come up with a plan immediately to address the situation.

"The problem is now," he said. "The administration has to be able to pick up the phone," he said.

Travellers exit their rides on the road as they try to make their flight to Toronto with their luggage at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport, in Montreal, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi

DeSousa said a summit including the Quebec Ministry of Transport, which operates highways 20, 520 and 40, Transport Canada, which operates the airport, the City of Dorval, where the airport is located, and any other stakeholders will take too long to organize and that something needs to be done now.

"It's not a question of is the airport federal or are the provincial highways under the jurisdiction of Quebec," he said. "It's the City of Montreal who is the front face of this, and it's not the impression we want to give people."

"Montreal has the bully pulpit... Montreal has the responsibility to ensure that its principal airport is not being blocked and we have all access to it."

DeSousa said the administration is talking about having summits, which he says will take too long and not achieve enough.

"We don't need a summit. We need action," he said.

A WestJet cabin crew member walks past traffic to make his flight at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport, in Montreal, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christinne Muschi

Moving forward, DeSousa and Leckner both said much of the fault lies in poor long-term planning.

"You can't plan for today. You have to plan for many years from now," said Leckner. "They spent years and years and tens of millions planning the approach to the airport, but you now have all those lanes merging into two. I don't know any other airport in a major urban area such as Montreal that has such a limited access such as ours." 

Montreal executive committee member Sophie Mauzerolle admitted the traffic jams at the airport are "a real problem," adding it is "not the image we want to project of our city."

"At our level, we're working with the STM to optimize the 747 bus service, and we've contacted our partners to find out what more they can do to improve the situation," said Mauzerolle. "It's crucial to improve fluidity at the airport, as the current situation is unbearable for passengers travelling by car and bus. We're in touch with our partners and we're offering our full cooperation." Top Stories

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