Long waits at toll booths are part of the growing pains of the new Highway 30, as staff figure out the traffic pattern and the habits of motorists, a spokesperson for the highway authority said.
The highway was opened on Dec. 15, and acts as a bypass around the island of Montreal, connecting Vaudreuil-Dorion to Châteauguay.
Over the holiday season, several drivers reported waiting five minutes or longer at toll booths to cross the Serge Marcil Bridge, which connects Les Cèdres to Salaberry-de-Valleyfield. They reported seeing only one toll booth open to people paying with cash and credit cards, and two employees inside.
“We’re in a breaking-in period right now,” said Sylvie Marier, a spokesperson for Autoroute 30 Express, the private company that built and manages the highway, adding that if two people are in a booth, it is because one is a new employee being trained.
Marier said because this is the first year the highway is in existence, there is no previous history on which the company can draw, so it has trouble predicting how much traffic it will see at a given time of the day.
“It’s all new,” she said. “In a year from now, it will surely be better, because we have no history to draw on at this point.”
To avoid lineups, Marier recommends motorists pre-pay their tolls by getting transponders from the company’s website, a30express.com. The transponders, which can be ordered for free until June, allow motorists to drive in express lanes, which have barriers that lift automatically when they detect the devices.
Marier said there have been other small problems with the toll system, which could indicate that the public needs to be better educated to use the system.
“Some people put bills into the credit card slot, which broke the slots for others who wanted to use them,” she said. “We’ll try to inform users a bit better on this.”
While there have been administrative issues with the tolls, Marier said snow clearing has been working well.
Snow clearing was being questioned last Thursday when a car plunged off the highway onto Harwood Rd., killing the driver.
Sûreté du Québec police say Montreal resident Golnaz Ghanean, 32, lost control of her car. But police continue to investigate whether an accumulation of snow along the guardrail could have contributed to the accident.
Marier said the highway authority won’t comment on the accident.
“Until the investigation is complete, it’s difficult for us to examine the causes of this deplorable accident,” she said.
The highway authority removed the snow accumulation from the shoulder just before the roadway was reopened.