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Relaxing drive for Montreal commuters despite closures on St. Jacques overpass

MONTREAL – It was expected to be a terrible morning for drivers coming in from the west-end borough of Notre-Dame-de-Grace, but it ended up being an unbelievably easy commute.

“We did a monitoring of the traffic in the area and it took four minutes to do the detour,” said Sarah Bensadoun, a spokesperson for Transports Quebec.

A glimpse of traffic on St. Jacques Street in Montreal on March 23, 2015. Rachel Lau/Global News

“We’re happy all our planning worked,” said Bensadoun.

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“It was very fluid, no traffic in the area.”

READ MORE: Driving headaches could soon be the norm in NDG

A chunk of St. Jacques Street — spanning about 850 metres between Girouard Street and Decarie Boulevard — was closed Friday.

It will stay that way until September 2017.

A glimpse of traffic on St. Jacques Street in Montreal on March 23, 2015. Rachel Lau/Global News

“It’s going to be an inconvenience but we’ll keep traffic patterns flowing and we’ll have alternate routes available,” Russell Copeman, Cote-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace borough mayor.

“I’m not going to suggest it’s business as usual, but I don’t think it’s going to be quite as bad as people initially anticipated.”

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Parts of the overpass will stay open until it’s actually demolished later this year or next year.

WATCH: Russell Copeman on the St. Jacques closure

The reason part of the street needs to be closed is so that workers can go in and redirect a sewage line.

A glimpse of traffic on St. Jacques Street in Montreal on March 23, 2015. Rachel Lau/Global News

Then, they can then demolish the overpass and rebuild it to fit in with the new, lower Turcot Interchange once it’s built in 2020.

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“We’re doing the best we can under the circumstances that are really beyond our control,” Copeman said.

It’s an extremely busy street for NDG residents: about 20,000 people use St. Jacques Street every day.

Residents who live nearby say they’re worried about having more construction right next to their homes, but say so far it hasn’t been as bad as they thought.
“It’s been very organized, I’ve must say,” said Wesley Adams, who lives on Prud’homme avenue.

“No noise, very clean.”

“I think people are getting a bit tired, but they’re used to it,” added Kiran Paranjape, who lives on Addington street.

Ministry of Transport

Transports Quebec has been planning for the major closure for just over a year.

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During the next two and a half years, traffic will detour to Girouard and Decarie, which will have one lane going in each direction.

READ MORE: St. Jacques St. exit to close for months

“It is going to be complicated for residents in the area, let’s be honest and we have advised them of that,” said Bensadoun.

“The next few years, quite complicated, but we are doing our best to alleviate the impact that it will have on them.”

A glimpse of traffic on St. Jacques Street in Montreal on March 23, 2015. Rachel Lau/Global News
A glimpse of traffic on St. Jacques Street in Montreal on March 23, 2015. Rachel Lau/Global News
A glimpse of traffic on St. Jacques Street in Montreal on March 23, 2015. Rachel Lau/Global News
A glimpse of traffic on St. Jacques Street in Montreal on March 23, 2015. Rachel Lau/Global News

In the meantime, almost a dozen traffic cops are expected to remain at the site.

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“People sometimes are distracted and it can cause major traffic jams,” said Andre Durocher, a spokesperson with Montreal police.

“Our role basically is to ensure the flow of traffic and to get people moving.”

WATCH: Montreal police spokesperson Andre Durocher on St. Jacques Street closure

A reserved bus lane will also have extra services for buses on Upper Lachine for the 90, 104 and 420.

Construction was originally expected to take a year and a half, but workers realized moving the sewer would delay works for at least another year.

A glimpse of traffic on St. Jacques Street in Montreal on March 23, 2015. Rachel Lau/Global News
A glimpse of traffic on St. Jacques Street in Montreal on March 23, 2015. Rachel Lau/Global News
A glimpse of traffic on St. Jacques Street in Montreal on March 23, 2015. Rachel Lau/Global News
A glimpse of traffic on St. Jacques Street in Montreal on March 23, 2015. Rachel Lau/Global News

rachel.lau@globalnews.ca

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