by John Jantak of Your Local Journal
Motorists who travel along Chemin Ste. Marie in Ste. Anne de Bellevue can expect traffic relief by mid- September after city council approved a resolution to proceed with the construction of a temporary road that will reconnect access to southbound Boulevard des Anciens-Combattants from the Highway 40 West service road at Exit 41.
The announcement was made at a special council meeting on Tuesday evening, August 19, after Mayor Paola Hawa and four of the five councillors present voted for the temporary road. District 6 Councillor Michel Boudreault who represents constituents in one area north of the city voted against the resolution. District 5 Councillor Yvan Labelle, who represents the other northern area, was absent.
Resident Stephan Wintemute who lives on Chemin Ste. Marie was pleased with the announcement. “I’m all for it,” Wintemute told Your Local Journal after the meeting. “I’ve been screaming for it for the last three years only there was no willpower from the previous council or mayor to do anything about it.”
Wintemute said he has had to contend with an average of 3000 vehicles that travel along Chemin Ste. Marie each day ever since Exit 41 was closed in February 2011 under the municipal administration led by former Mayor Francis Deroo because of safety concerns regarding the structural condition of two overpasses.
The closure prompted many motorists to find alternate routes to access southbound Boulevard des Anciens-Combattants, including travelling west along Chemin Ste. Marie from Morgan Road just off Exit 44 from the westbound Highway 40 service road.
Work to build the temporary road will begin shortly and will be financed from funds set aside for various municipal works projects and cost just under $50,000. The city recently rejected the lowest bid of $67,315 made by a private firm during the contract tendering process because the cost was deemed too high.
“The main reason to build the temporary road is to provide security and enhance the quality of life for residents,” said District 2 Councillor Ryan Young. He added that the temporary road will help to prolong the life of Chemin Ste. Marie which was repaved last summer and keep other sections of the road which weren’t repaved from deteriorating faster, especially during the winter months.
District 3 Councillor Andrée Deschamps noted that several merchants in the village were pleased with the decision to build the temporary road because their businesses have been affected by the closure of Exit 41. “It stopped people from coming to the village because of the detours,” said Deschamps. “The merchants are very happy. Even I’m smiling because they’re happy.”
Boudreault said he voted against the project because he feels the money could have been better spent elsewhere. “I’m opposed to paying $50,000 for a temporary road. I don’t think that the majority of residents who live in the north of Ste. Anne’s are convinced that amount of money is well spent for something that is temporary.”
Boudreault’s sentiments were echoed by at least three other residents from the north sector who chided Mayor Paola Hawa and the other four councillors for frivolously wasting money on a temporary road instead of waiting for the construction of the T-intersection at Exit 41 that is scheduled to begin in mid-2015 and expected to be completed by late fall.
Hawa wasn’t swayed by the arguments. “If people’s heartache is with the fact it’s ‘temporary’, let me ask them something. The flowers that we plant in the summer, aren’t they temporary? When we have an event that costs $20,000 and it lasts for hours. That’s temporary,” said Hawa.
“Would I rather not have spent the $50,000? Absolutely, but when you take a look at the benefits right across the board, be it for the merchants in the south, for the people who live in the north or for people who cross the entire city, we’re getting major bang for the buck. I still get tons of email from people asking me to do something about it,” Hawa added.