The train cars for Montreal’s electric rail network have barely hit the tracks and already people are demanding the project be extended.
A petition online, registered with Quebec’s national assembly, is calling for the future REM network to have an additional station off-island in Vaudreuil-Dorion.
The petition, which has already amassed close to 2,000 signatures, is calling for the rail network to be added to the plans for the newly proposed Île-aux-Tourtes bridge.
Earlier in May, serious structural issues forced the closure of the bridge, a main artery between Ontario and Quebec, causing major traffic woes for commuters forced to detour using Highway 20.
The petition says more than 150,000 people live in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region and more than 86,000 motorists use the Île-aux-Tourtes bridge on a daily basis.
It adds that the recent complete closure of the bridge “clearly demonstrates the need for a viable and reliable alternative.”
The Transport Ministry announced construction on the new bridge would begin sometime in 2023, replacing the 56-year-old crumbling infrastructure.
The new bridge will include three lanes of traffic and a reserved bus lane in both directions. There will also be a path accessible to pedestrians and cyclists.
It will be built north of the current Highway 40 span, which connects Vaudreuil-Dorion with Senneville.
In response to the petition, representatives from the REM said they are working hard to deliver the project with its six future stations servicing the greater communities of the West Island.
“The analysis of potential extensions need to adhere to the framework of collaboration in place between the Government of Quebec and CDPQ Infra,” Emmanuelle Rouillard-Moreau, spokesperson for the REM, said.
Quebec’s Transport Ministry says there are no plans for the REM to be incorporated in the new bridge design.
Instead, reserved bus lanes will be used to get people to the closest station — in Sainte Anne de Bellevue.
“It is a priority for us to offer to the people of Vaudreuil-Soulanges public transit solutions that are efficient and adapted to the region. As soon as the new bridge will be built, part of the shoulder lane will be reserved for buses to get to the l’Anse à l’Orme station quickly,” Deputy Transport Minister Chantal Rouleau said.
Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon says while it looks good on paper, the extension may be more of a headache than people think.
“The idea of the REM on our side is OK but it’s the cost,” Pilon said. “People have to understand it will cost a fortune and people will have to pay.”
While not certain of the price tag, Pilon estimated it would be in the millions, which would end up costing citizens.
Pilon says the reserved bus lanes on the new bridge will be the best solution, making the trip to and from the West Island every 10 to 15 minutes.
“Once the bridge is complete it will be more efficient and roll smoothly,” Pilon said.
The deadline to sign the petition is Sept. 7.
The $6.3-billion REM commuter rail system will feature 67 kilometres of tracks across the Greater Montreal area and include 26 stops.