Terrasse-Vaudreuil says the level crossing to enter the town is a security risk, and residents shouldn’t have to wait any longer for an underpass to be built.
Mayor Manon Trudel issued a statement about the situation last week. She said an underpass for cars and pedestrians to pass under the train tracks at Third Ave. was promised by the Quebec government as part of the much-delayed completion of Highway 20 in the sector. That project, however, is still in the planning stages, and is at least 10 years away from completion.
“We can’t wait any more,” Trudel said. “Residents are worried. This has been promised for decades.”
Councillor Jean-Pierre Brazeau said there is too much potential for accidents with the current road layout.
“If we look at all the pedestrians, cars, trucks and the number of trains: 100 to 120 per day, the risks are super high,” Brazeau said.
He added there have been several close calls over the past years. Two years ago, a school bus got stuck between the two gates. Luckily, a commuter train was already stopped at the time. In 2007, an empty tractor-trailer was struck by a commuter train travelling 100 kilometres per hour. No one was injured. In 2001, a passenger train hit a car — driven by an 81-year-old Île-Perrot woman, accompanied by another woman, age 80 — and dragged it about 12 metres. No one was seriously hurt. In 1999, a 46-year-old woman died when struck by a Via Rail train while she was crossing the tracks.
Trudel said while there have been some incidents, residents have so far been lucky that trains didn’t derail during any of the collisions, and she figures at some point, the town’s luck will run out.
Brazeau, a former locomotive engineer, said he’s also concerned about breakdowns in the area, because if a train breaks down, it could trap residents. About three years ago, a train broke down and closed down the level crossing for about two hours while it was repaired. Some trains are long enough that they block both the Terrasse-Vaudreuil station and the one in Île-Perrot, meaning residents have no alternative routes to get out of the town.
Trudel said the town is highlighting the importance of rail safety in the wake of the derailment and lethal fire in Lac-Mégantic in the Eastern Townships earlier this month that has left an estimated 50 people dead.
“We hope to meet with provincial and federal authorities, and we’ll keep everyone up to date on the progress,” she said.
Brazeau said a set of traffic lights installed two years ago by Transport Canada, but still not activated is a waste of money.
“I think they should have taken the $1 million on the traffic lights, and put it towards an underpass.”