Access an issue as new Vendôme-MUHC tunnel opens

WATCH: The tunnel linking the Vendome metro to the super hospital is open to public but as Global’s Tim Sargeant reports, there are some major issues when it comes to access.

MONTREAL – “On time and on budget,” – that’s how government officials are selling the new pedestrian tunnel linking the Vendôme metro and train station with the new MUHC super hospital.

The $5.16 million underground passage allows hospital employees, patients and visitors access to the MUHC without having to take a detour along de Maisonneuve boulevard.

Limited access

The time saving passage does come with constraints.

The 34 metre tunnel brings people to the MUHC property, but not its front doors.

READ MORE: New bus links Lionel-Groulx metro with MUHC hospital

People will have to walk outside for the remaining 200 metres.

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“People who are going to be walking out here on rainy days are going to be very disappointed,” said Peter McQueen, NDG city councillor.

There are also no elevators from the metro, which makes it impossible for people in wheelchairs to access the tunnel, not to mention the numerous stairs make it very hard for those with reduced mobility.

READ MORE: City councillor lobbies for easier access to MUHC

Yet, there is a way to get to the hospital from the inside – via a door from the tunnel leading to the MUHC parking garage and hospital.

But it’s permanently locked and it can only open from the garage to the tunnel.

“It’s impossible to give access from that door to the entrance of our emergency rooms,” Normand Rinfret, CEO of the MUHC, told reporters.

A bustling station

Each day, 19,000 commuter rail passengers and metro train riders pass through the Vendôme station.

Tunnel access for many of them is considered a big time saver – but it does nothing to help those with limited mobility.

A second tunnel outfitted with elevators at the metro station is scheduled to be built, however it’s still in the planning stages with no announced timeline or budget.

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IN PHOTOS: Inside the Vendome station-MUHC superhospital tunnel

“We will be able to make an announcement together once the plan is all attached,” said Kathleen Weil, MNA for NDG.

Many Montrealers said they can’t understand why a tunnel with full access for those with disabilities wasn’t already planned and delivered – especially considering the government chose the Glen location due to its proximity to mass transit systems.

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