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More direct access to MUHC could save taxpayers $9 million
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 8 juillet 2010
Photo Marie Cicchini
NDG District Councillor Peter McQueen and 2nd Opposition Leader Richard Bergeron show MUHC emergency access road off De Courcelle Rd. in Westmount.

Peter McQueen and Projet Montreal are working on a solution to save taxpayers $9,000,000 by asking Westmount to open an already built access road to the MUHC for cars, bicycles and pedestrians.
McQueen voted June 28 to grant the building permit for the layout and foundations of the new hospital being built in the Glen site behind the Vendome metro. The MUHC and the winning consortium, GISM, have broken up the plan into phases to fast-track the permit process.

During a press conference earlier in the day McQueen said that Projet Montreal is suggesting ways the
MTQ, the STM, the borough of CDN-NDG and the cities of Montreal and Westmount can help with the access plan for cars, transit, pedestrians and bikes.
McQueen believes the onus is on politicians to come together.

The plans approved so far include a new access road from Saint-Jacques St. for staff and suppliers, but it comes with a $10 million price tag. “As it stands, the cost would be shared by the MUHC and the City Centre, not the consortium whose bid includes no access ways,” affirms Peter McQueen.

There is already an access road linking the MUHC site to de Courcelle Rd. in Westmount, but it’s reserved for emergency vehicles only. It would cost $1 million to widen that emergency road by 12 feet and provide access to cars, bicycles and pedestrians, instead of building a new one.

This solution however requires the approval of the city of Westmount. “The major players should discuss with the administration of Westmount
ways of making this existing road available so that all citizens can use it,” said McQueen.

Interference from Turcot
Projet Montreal sees the planned road that rises up from St. Jacques right under the Turcot as a technical challenge since the Ministry of Transport will launch years and years of construction work to build a new interchange.

That means that the MUHC access road will not be built for a long time, according to Projet Montreal, which hinders the building process. Construction workers would have to enter by Decarie and cross the huge work site two to four times a day to park near their trailers.

The emergency road also leads straight to the construction workers’ trailers located in the eastern side of the site that Westmount is allowing them to use.

Sophie Thibault, borough councillor for St. Henri says Westmount could at least leave a pedestrian size breach in the emergency gate to let pedestrians and cyclists enter from the southwest safely and smoothly. The plan currently includes a switchback road that zigzags up a steep hill right below the Turcot interchange, which the 2nd Opposition considers “expensive and dangerous.”

This solution would leave more money to help with access to the Vendome metro and ATM trains, and with the bike path NDG and Westmount residents need to enter the hospital site safely or bypass all the hospital traffic planned on Decarie.

Projet Montreal hasn’t yet heard back from Westmount mayor Peter Trent, and doesn’t expect an answer until the Westmount administration has had time for a thorough reflection.

Peter McQueen has read the mayor’s initial response to the media about high volumes of traffic around the Home Depot off Glen Rd.

“The MUHC plans have kept changing, so that doesn’t give us much time to react. Perhaps Mr. Trent could do a traffic count and a study on who is going up and down the Glen Rd. and why. Maybe it’s time for him to hear from a wide community.”

[Marie Cicchini]

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