West Island’s north-south arteries clogged
By Robert Frank
After minor construction detours turned parts of Sources and St. John boulevards into parking lots last week, West Island municipal leaders have renewed their call for completion of a decades-overdue alternate north-south corridor.
According to Pointe Claire mayor Bill McMurchie, the West Island is not yet ready for an automated train service, similar to Vancouver’s successful Skytrain. Rather, “the next logical step is the construction of the Jacques Bizard corridor. It would go from Île Bizard as far south as the Lakeshore General Hospital and take the load off of St. John and St. Charles boulevards.”
The right-of-way is owned by Hydro Quebec, which doesn’t need the property and has been trying to sell it to the municipalities for the past 30 years.
“It could have been in operation long ago,” recalled Mayor McMurchie, who spent many years in municipal administration before seeking election. “All West Island municipalities save one were prepared to finance the Jacques Bizard extension and the Quebec minister of transport was committed to finance the overpass.”
“It made as much sense decades ago as it does now: People from Île Bizard would be able to use that route to get straight to the hospital,” he explained, rather than having to take a circuitous route along today’s congested West Island arteries.
Mayor McMurchie told The Suburban that he opposes giving precedence to the Highway 440 extension, mooted recently by Pierrefonds-Roxboro Mayor Monique Worth.
“If you are going to improve traffic, you don’t start with a six-lane highway in Ste. Anne de Bellevue,” he contended. “You start in the middle and you finish there.”
“So the next step on the expansion of road works in the north-south direction is not the 440 extension that Monique Worth speaks about. That should come in due course. The next step should involve the Jacques Bizard corridor.”
Le Train de l’Ouest
Mayor McMurchie also vigorously supports the proposed east-west Train de l’ouest project.
“There no doubt that it has such merit that money will be found somewhere to do it,” he enthused.
However, he noted scheduling hurdles remain “because freight pays more than commuters.”
“The only solution to that is a simple but costly dedicated track,” he observed. “Even someone who knows nothing about public transportation will tell you that commuter service has to take precedence over a dedicated nonstop connection carrying tourists between Aéroports de Montréal and the Queen Elizabeth hotel that is of no use to commuters.”