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Fed up with traffic jams near MUHC site
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 20 octobre 2011

File photo

Peter McQueen wonders whether construction of the train bridge is even going to start up in the fall.

Its not only motorists who’ve had it with traffic jams caused by the construction of the MUHC super-hospital in NDG. Some merchants are also upset about the toll that permanent gridlock around the Glen site is taking on their businesses.

One merchant, who asked not to be identified for fear that drawing attention to traffic problems would scare away his regular clients, said that “construction chaos” is wreaking havoc on small businesses like his.

He thought that he had found the perfect spot for his ten-year-old cosmetics retail and wholesale outlet, after doing extensive research on where to relocate before moving into the St. Raymond neighbourhood. But, he got a rude awakening.

NDG district city councillor Peter McQueen tends to agree that traffic tie-ups are making it more difficult to get to the area. “Upper Lachine Rd. isn’t normally as accessible as Monkland Ave. or Sherbrooke St., even at the best of times, because it’s off the beaten track,” he said. “There’s no doubt that delays in construction for the train deviation are having a negative impact on businesses in the area.”

He wonders whether construction of the train bridge is even going to start up in the fall. But if it doesn’t, McQueen is adamant that the Upper Lachine axis has to be cleared. “It has got to be fully re-opened to cars, buses, and pedestrians,” he said.

Traffic woes have been greatly exacerbated by record road construction this year. This summer, the veritable “conecopia” of orange and white cones demarcating highways and streets appeared to turn the island-city into one giant work-site.

There has been saturation news coverage for several months about all kinds of transportation problems and a cursory reading of the newspapers would give any prospective tourist cause to pause before visiting our fair city.

For at times it has seemed as though nothing is working properly or on schedule: neither the metro, nor the buses, nor the trains, while ramped up city-wide construction has made travelling on the highways a nightmare.

But, beneath the grumbling about the major inconvenience of this merry-go-round–the-metropolis, there was the nagging worry about crumbling infrastructure, and anger at foot-dragging politicians for not expediting urgent repair of bridges and overpasses, or getting necessary road work done on time.

However, Jeffrey McKenzie, a supervisor at Momesso Restaurant on Upper Lachine Rd., is relieved that the St. Jacques exit is finally open. Over the course of the summer people kept telling him that they would have loved to dine at the restaurant, but didn’t go because the exits were closed. And while he couldn’t say exactly how much business had dropped off, there was a noticeable difference.

Merchant X is even considering closing his business if things don’t pick up. In the meantime, he will have to do what Montrealers do best to cope with our own peculiar brand of “post-transport-stress”: get used to construction crews, clogged arteries, and crisis-management.

[ Deborah Rankin ]

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