Critics are blasting the City of Montreal for the amount of traffic clogging up city streets, especially this month. Some say the high number of construction permits issued in competing neighborhoods is evidence of poor planning.
“The reality is that we can’t give any figures,” said Alan DeSousa, the city’s opposition critic for infrastructure and borough mayor for Saint-Laurent. “Really, there’s no accumulation of data to allow us to be able to say, with certainty, which public ones are on the radar, which private ones are on the radar.”
He added that that since September, with the resumption of schools and the return of people to work, the situation has worsened.
“(It) is frustrating to drivers, frustrating to people who are obliged to spend hours and hours on the road in traffic,” DeSousa noted.
He added that if there was enough real-time information on the city’s website people could avoid construction zones and help prevent congestion.
The opposition member wants all public and private construction works to be registered on a common site publicly accessible to manage the situation better.
Others point to traffic problems beyond construction, particularly in areas like the Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood.
“Crossing Decarie (Boulevard) has always been a problem, morning and afternoon,” traffic expert Rick Leckner pointed out. “The Cavendish (Boulevard) extension is yet to be done, heaven knows when it will be done.”
According Leckner, the Jean Talon (Street) exit off Decarie (Expressway) sometimes has traffic backed up for several kilometres.
“People are fed up,” he said.
“There’s tremendous cost to this in frustration, in lack of productivity.”
Last spring the city’s auditor general’s report also pointed to poor organization.
“The planning and coordination processes fail to identify all the projects of the central departments and boroughs, carried out on- or off-street that have an impact on public roads,” the report reads.
In an emailed statement the city says, “75% of construction sites are under the responsibility of the private sector and contractors independent of the City of Montreal, who must take responsibility and do their part, in particular by respecting the measures imposed by the City.”
“Our administration is actively working with all partners to reduce the impact of congestion, in particular through blitzes led by the mobility squad, which removes orange cones and unnecessary signs.”
Critics concede public transit is an alternative, and according to the city’s transit authority ridership was at 70 per cent pre-COVID numbers a week ago.
Still, the opposition insists the city can plan better.