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Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel | Far from the anticipated chaos



And then, this first day of partial closure of the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel? Not so bad, but it’s too early to rejoice, experts say. La Presse takes stock of this not-quite-just foretaste of the next three years.

The calm before the storm?

A total of 34 minutes. It’s the time it took The Press to drive between Boucherville and Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, shortly before 8 a.m. A travel time comparable to what was in place before the closure of the south tube in the tunnel.

On the other hand, traffic was more difficult to leave Montreal and go to the South Shore. In this direction on Highway 25, it took nearly 50 minutes in the early morning before crossing the river.

D’ailleurs, aucune mesure d’atténuation des entraves n’a été mise en place par le ministère des Transports sur le réseau autoroutier sur l’île, bien qu’il ne reste plus qu’une seule voie dans le tunnel en direction de la Rive-Sud. L’essentiel des aménagements —dont l’ajout de navettes et une voie réservée— a été implanté sur la Rive-Sud, pour faciliter l’accès à l’île.

Sur l’ensemble du réseau routier, la congestion était modérée lundi. En matinée, la circulation était nettement moins dense qu’à la normale sur la Rive-Sud. Une certaine circulation a été observée sur plusieurs axes névralgiques, comme l’autoroute 25 et le tunnel Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine, ou le pont Samuel-De Champlain. Mais le niveau de congestion était globalement moindre qu’à l’habitude. Malgré quelques accrochages mineurs, tout s’est assez bien déroulé, a rapporté la Sûreté du Québec. Même sur l’axe Décarie, normalement très achalandé, c’était plutôt calme.


Vue aérienne de la circulation à Montréal, lundi

Le retour semblait plus difficile en fin d’après-midi dans le tunnel, alors que l’autoroute 25 était congestionnée en direction sud jusqu’à la hauteur du boulevard Yves-Prévost vers 16 h. La circulation était cependant déjà fluide dans cette direction sur le pont Jacques-Cartier vers 17 h.

Catherine Morency, titulaire de la Chaire mobilité à Polytechnique Montréal, n’est pas surprise. « Il y a quelques années, le cabinet du ministre des Transports m’avait demandé ce que les gens feraient si on fermait le tunnel. Je leur avais dit très clairement : si on ferme trois jours, il ne va rien se passer. La stratégie court terme du monde, c’est ce qu’on a vu [lundi] “, she says.

We will see the situation evolve over the weeks. Unless a large part of the population gives up their jobs or moves, it will come back strong.

Catherine Morency, holder of the Mobility Chair at Polytechnique Montréal

At the Université de Montréal, transport planning expert Pierre Barrieau confirms this. According to him, Monday was “very unrepresentative”, because users chose to telecommute and because because of Halloween, some parents probably took time off. “For me, it’s Wednesday and Thursday that we will have the first traces of what it could look like. For the total, it will take another week or two, ”he says.

Be “more aggressive”

Until then, the government “must realize that we have to be much more aggressive on public transit, carpooling and other modes,” insists Morency. “At the moment, the notion of network is poorly understood. It’s not just a corridor, the problem is everywhere it crosses. Currently, it is as if we put twelve entrance doors in a theater, but only two to exit. »

“The fact of having extraordinary measures, it shows that we have badly planned. It would be time for us to plan all of our networks, including cycling, walking, in an integrated way. […] Everything in the speech is very oriented towards the solo car. There is something very systemic in the way we do not currently understand mobility issues. When we talk about metro extension, it should be an ongoing process, not an exceptional event,” continues Morency.

At UQAM, Florence Junca-Adenot, professor in the urban studies department, agrees.

The ridership of public transit, it is especially there that we must hope for an increase. Otherwise, we will be in trouble. It would mean that the solo car would take up more space, with less space.

Florence Junca-Adenot, professor in the urban studies department at UQAM

At Trajectoire Québec, general manager Sarah V. Doyon also calls for caution. “It can take a few days, even a few weeks, before the mess happens. It’s one thing not to go there on October 31st, it’s another to never go through the tunnel again. There are two worlds,” she says, hoping people will “turn to other modes” to “avoid hell.”

This is what Djenann Saint-Dic and Karina Audet did, met at the Radisson terminus when they were returning from work. They chose to leave their cars in an incentive parking lot in Boucherville and take the bus on Monday.

“It went very well,” says Saint-Dic, whose journey to the city center only took him “five or ten minutes” longer than usual. She plans to do it again on Tuesday. It also went well for Audet, who says he wants to try other lines before making his choice.

Quebec will adjust as needed

From 6 a.m. on Monday, the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, visited the employees of the Montreal Integrated Traffic Management Center (CIGC). On the spot, The Press was able to observe that most park-and-ride lots were very unpopular.


The De Montarville incentive parking lot, located in Boucherville, was not very busy on Monday morning.

M’s officeme Guilbault said Monday that “although the first morning went well, the minister will continue to monitor the situation very closely over the next few days.” “We will not hesitate to adjust quickly to make life easier for users if the situation in the coming days requires it,” noted press officer Louis-Julien Dufresne.

According to Mr. Barrieau, the fact is that the population is currently “overcompensated”. “We have to wait for bad habits to resume. […] Everyone’s home, look what’s going on. But people can’t be like that for three years”, illustrates the specialist, who believes that the first big test “it will be the first snowstorm”.

“The level of congestion we have will increase a lot during the work. With the telework measures that will land, combined with economic growth, inevitably, traffic will go up,” concludes Mr. Barrieau.

QS wants to bet on free public transport


Québec solidaire co-spokesperson and MNA for Gouin Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and Étienne Grandmont, MNA for Taschereau

Québec solidaire proposes to establish free public transport between the South Shore and Montreal for the duration of the repair work on the Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine tunnel, as well as the establishment of a reserved lane for carpooling and buses on the Jacques Cartier Bridge.

“If we want to be able to circulate the same number of people with infrastructure that has a reduced capacity, we must increase the number of people per vehicle. It goes through a developed offer, and an improved tariff offer, ”says Quebec Solidarity MP Etienne Grandmont in an interview.

Former executive director of Accès transports viables and specialist in public transit, Mr. Grandmont, elected in the riding of Taschereau, would like to meet the Minister of Transport, Geneviève Guilbault, to present his plan.

It proposes to make public transit between the South Shore and Montreal free, immediately and for the entire duration of the work, and to reduce the price of transit passes by 50% throughout the Longueuil agglomeration.

The objective: “relieve the pressure” in the entire road network of the sector. QS deems it necessary to bet on the price of transit passes, since residents of the South Shore will still have to continue paying for their cars.

The cost of public transport is therefore added to the payment for the car. QS estimates that this measure would cost the State 200 million, which is not much, says Mr. Grandmont, when you consider the total cost of the tunnel works.

Reserved lane

He also suggests creating a reserved lane for public transit and carpooling on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. Then, in the longer term, work with transport companies to “develop supply and frequency”. “You can’t increase the number of trains and ferries in the short term, but if you can maximize frequency to increase capacity,” he said.

Mr. Grandmont is very critical of the CAQ, which spent a lot more time “obsessing” on the third link between Quebec and Lévis than preparing for the tunnel work. He also points out that the lack of meetings of the Mobility Montreal committee in recent years demonstrates a “lack of leadership”.

However, he believes that with his proposals, society will be able to gain in the long term “if people realize that public transit works and they decide to sell one of their cars”.

The elected official, who succeeds Catherine Dorion in her riding of Quebec, hopes that certain solutions, such as the establishment of a reserved lane on the Jacques-Cartier bridge, could become permanent. “We have three years to change people’s habits. In behavior change mechanisms, we are in the pay zone. If we succeed, that means we won’t come back with the same offers, the same motorway capacity [en maintenant] reserved lanes for public transit and carpooling,” he explained.

Learn more

  • 120,000
    Around 120,000 vehicles use the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel daily, according to the latest data available. Of the number, about 13% are trucks. In the long term, Quebec estimates that about 60% of motorists will have to change their habits so that the imposing construction site does not turn into a nightmare.

    SOURCE: Quebec Ministry of Transport

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