MONTREAL – A meeting between Montreal’s commuter train service and Quebec’s new Transport Minister, Robert Poeti took place Friday to sort out transit priorities.
Poeti and the AMT’s president Nicolas Girard came to an agreement to fast track decisions about public transit to the South Shore.
However, residents in Montreal’s west end were dismayed to find out they will have to wait in line to have their priorities heard.
“Every year traffic is worse and worse,” said Alex Yoo, who works at Westminster Florist.
“More trains passing.”
Yoo’s flower shop is on one of Montreal West’s busiest streets.
At times, traffic and congestion can back up as far as the eye can see and commuter trains constantly crossing over the main street don’t help.
“Traffic in the morning backed up for miles,” he said.
Montreal West Mayor, Beny Masella, couldn’t agree more.
He argues that there are now more than 80 commuter trains a day passing everyday – double the number since he first took office five years ago.
“These barriers are coming down very often during the day,” he said.
“It’s getting to be untenable.”
The mayor only hopes his message will be heard by the Transport Minister.
“This is something that Minister Poeti needs to know about,” insisted Masella.
Yet, during the late Friday afternoon meeting between Poeti and Girard, the issue didn’t quite make it on the discussion table.
Officials agreed it was important to put an end to this chaotic crossing problem once the train de l’ouest project is put on the tracks – but that’s not the top priority.
“The train de l’ouest and all the other specificity about transportation in Montreal will be on the desk,” said Poeti.
For now, several options are being considered.
Some are calling for a train tunnel to be built running below the level crossings.
Others are asking to build an overpass for vehicles to drive above or below the tracks.
Yet, many businesses fear that could be devastating.
“The overpass would have to start here,” said Yoo.
“So that means these businesses have to leave.”
The mayor insists the problematic level crossing and barriers simply must go, but doing that will cause a lot of financial pain for tax payers and local merchants.
“I cannot believe that this is not something that can’t be addressed without minimal expropriation,” said Masella.
“We need minimal disruption to my street.”
Until then, business owners say they are frustrated having to deal with the mess outside their shops.
“Obviously its not good for business,” said Ryan Saroukhan, the owner of L’Oeufrier.
“There’s a lot of noise, a lot of traffic in front of my place.”
Talks are ongoing between the mayor and the AMT.