The first week of major obstructions as part of the repair work on the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel was not marked by a catastrophic situation on the metropolitan road network. On Friday, traffic remained fluid between Montreal and the South Shore during rush hour.
At 8 a.m. Friday morning, it only took 14 minutes to cross the 22 kilometers separating Beloeil from the entrance to the tunnel, half of the lanes of which are closed for three years. The counter recorded an extra minute during the afternoon rush hour for the same trip, a “fairly standard” journey time, according to Sarah Bensadoun, spokesperson for the Ministry of Transport.
While access to the tunnel on the South Shore was clear, it was heavier on the island, where few – if any – mitigation measures were put in place. On Highway 25, it took about 35 minutes on Friday morning to travel the four kilometers separating the Galeries Anjou from the entrance to the tunnel. Around 3:30 p.m., motorists had to wait nearly 40 minutes to reach the tunnel from the island of Montreal, a level of congestion still comparable to the Department’s estimates.
“It still went well. It was not as heavy as yesterday and the day before yesterday, ”said Sarah Bensadoun on the phone. Thursday morning, motorists had to wait more than an hour in the metropolis to enter the tunnel. The Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, had even anticipated in the afternoon more congestion in the coming days.
Reduced use of mitigation measures
The mitigation measures put in place on the South Shore to limit the impact of obstacles experienced a drop in their use on Friday. Barely 472 people boarded one of the buses using the reserved lane on Highway 20 to reach Montreal, a third less than the volume observed since the beginning of the week.
Park-and-ride lots also experienced a sharp drop in traffic on the South Shore. There were barely 603 cars, compared to around 900 the rest of the week. However, on the island of Montreal, the Radisson incentive parking lot was once again full on Friday morning. Like the rest of the week, its 325 places were occupied.
Friday, the other crossings on the St. Lawrence also showed little congestion, even less than the previous days. In addition to the partial closure of the Jacques-Cartier Bridge at the start of the afternoon following an incident which mobilized the emergency services of the Sûreté du Québec, no major traffic jams were reported on the Victoria bridges, Samuel-De Champlain and Honoré-Mercier.
Hardest on the island
As always, traffic was more difficult on the island. Highways 15, in both directions, as well as Highway 40 West remained quite congested during rush hours. However, the expressways of the North Shore leading to Montreal remained lightly busy on Friday.
This scenario of rather fluid crossings between the South Shore and Montreal was repeated all week, although the mitigation measures put in place were little used. It remains to be seen if traffic will increase next week or if many people will turn to public transit to avoid traffic jams.
The repair of the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel will continue until the end of 2025. For some 18 months, the southbound tube will be completely closed to allow the repair of its structure. During this period, all traffic will be concentrated in the north tube, two lanes leading to Montreal and the third to the South Shore.
In about 18 months, it will then be the turn of the north tube to be closed. Traffic will then be concentrated in the south tube, until the end of the vast construction site.
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