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New highway will alleviate traffic, but concerns remain

  • Tolls are a point of concern for trucking companies. They fear the system chosen by the province will lead to gridlock.
    Tolls are a point of concern for trucking companies. They fear the system chosen by the province will lead to gridlock.
    Photo credit: Navneet Pall/The Gazette

The completion of the Highway 30 link will surely alleviate traffic on the city’s congested road network, but don’t expect any magical solutions, experts say.

Due to open in December, the Highway 30 link is a $1.5 billion project to complete a beltway around the island of Montreal. It has been estimated that 5,000 transporter trucks and 12,000 private cars per day will be diverted by the link. The highway is being built by a private consortium, which will earn revenue from tolls.

Ottavio Galella, the head of Traffix Consultants, said while Highway 30 will divert a lot of long-distance traffic away from Montreal, it won’t relieve chronic congestion.

That’s because the road network is already strained, and the city has poorly managed its traffic patterns.

He’d like to see a regional toll system that would encourage some routes over others. He added the city and province are their own worst enemies, with poor planning of construction projects. Roadwork should be done at night and on weekends so they interfere as little as possible during peak hours.

He also said drivers on the island of Montreal are in store for many more traffic headaches in the next few years, with plans to revamp the Turcot Interchange, the Metropolitan Expressway, and the Dorval Circle.

Still, he sees the arrival of the 30 as a step in the right direction, and predicts it could even be used as an alternative by off-island residents to get downtown.

“Some travellers now in Anjou are using the new toll bridge (on Highway 25) to bypass the Met, if they have to get to Décarie or the airport, so I think Highway 30 could also become helpful for people to avoid the city.”

According to NA30, the private company managing the construction project, Highway 30 is expected to save drivers between 23 and 31 minutes to travel between Boucherville and Vaudreuil.

Galella cautioned, however, that the 30 won’t necessarily be congestion free. In fact, parts of it are already seeing traffic during rush hours.

“The new highway will stimulate demand too, because when new facilities are built, that generates more traffic,” he said.

While the new highway will be welcomed by long-distance travellers, it will also help the region, because there are a lot of trips made between Vaudreuil and Valleyfield.

“We definitely have commercial affinities with the Valleyfield/Beauharnois region,” said Julien Turcotte, the general manager of the Centre Local de Développement Vaudreuil-Soulanges. “There were lots of job losses in Valleyfield in the last few years, so many from that city now come to work in Vaudreuil.”

He added that the Vaudreuil-Soulanges area has a shortage of workers, so he hopes the new link will encourage South Shore residents to travel to the region in order to work.

Trucking companies are cheering the new link, said Marc Cadieux, the general manager of the Association du Camionage du Québec, as it will save the industry thousands of dollars every year.

“When a truck is stuck in traffic, it loses about $75 to $80 for every hour that it’s not moving,” Cadieux explained.

He added truckers are only legally allowed to work for a certain number of hours per day, so if they’re stuck in gridlock for an hour or two, it could mean that a delivery will be late, costing both the transport companies, and the businesses waiting for the goods.

While he said the opening of the 30 is welcome news, he’s concerned about the tolls. The fee is expected to be around $1.50, but if tolls skyrocket, as they have done on Highway 407 in Toronto (where tolls can now reach $26), it will become prohibitive to take the highway, and many trucks will just stay on the island’s roadways.

Cadieux said he is disappointed that the province has elected to have a toll system where all motorists will have to stop and wait until a barrier is open, even those who buy a transponder and pay a flat fee. He said the province should have opted for the automatic system in place on the new Highway 25 bridge, where sensors and cameras are in place to keep tabs on cars while they drive.

“We find this very disappointing,” he said, adding that he’s concerned the toll system will lead to accidents and cause congestion during high-traffic periods.

jmagder@montrealgazette.com
Twitter: @OffIslandNews

One comment

  1. Pingback: Highway 30 will open Dec. 15 | Off Island Gazette

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