Kramberger: West Island renews calls for additional north-south corridor

The project would help alleviate traffic on existing main arteries in the West Island.

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West Island civic officials are renewing calls for an additional north-south regional artery connecting to a new Highway 40 crossing, a project that’s been debated for decades.

Proponents of a Jacques-Bizard corridor project say it’s needed to balance traffic flow, provide a faster route to Lakeshore General Hospital and allow optimal access to the future Fairview-Pointe-Claire REM station. With the aim of kickstarting discussions with the Montreal agglomeration and Transports Québec, Dollard-des-Ormeaux city council tabled a resolution calling for the Jacques-Bizard Blvd. extension Tuesday. Kirkland did the same last week.

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The potential extension from Pierrefonds would pass through a servitude in Dollard-des-Ormeaux and continue to Stillview Ave. in Pointe-Claire through a new highway interchange. The latter would be located just west of the Fairview Forest on the north side of Highway 40. 

A graphic of a map depicting the potential Jacques-Bizard Blvd. extension project

The corridor would help alleviate traffic congestion motorists experience daily on the three existing main arteries in the West Island, namely St-Charles, St-Jean and Sources Blvds. It would provide an alternative north-south link between key east-west arteries such as Brunswick and Hymus Blvds.

By increasing vehicular capacity in the north-south axis, this project could also facilitate the implementation of reserved bus lanes as well as the extension of the bike path network along other arteries in the region.

Dollard Mayor Alex Bottausci, who has been spearheading efforts for the project with other West Island mayors, said it’s a priority to meet regional needs. An aging population, reliance on public transit, the arrival of the REM and the idea of an improved route to the LGH from sectors north of Highway 40 are all factors to consider, he said.

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“Because of all of these reasons, we have waited long enough in the West Island for a major project like this,” Bottausci said. “This would help alleviate (traffic on) other boulevards, but it would respond to the other demands.

“This is a societal responsibility,” he added.

The Jacques-Bizard corridor would use a hydro servitude that runs parallel to Sommerset St. in Dollard, which could be separated by a berm, Bottausci said. Bus routes and bike paths would be an integral part of the new corridor, he added.

Preliminary plans for this corridor date back to the 1980s, Bottausci noted.

A report on the Jacques-Bizard extension was tabled by Montreal in 2013, and it was included in the city’s transport plan in 2008, to no avail.

Kirkland Mayor Michel Gibson said his city supports a Jacques-Bizard corridor project, which would border its eastern limits near Acres St. He hopes their resolution opens doors to meetings with the Plante administration and the province.

“Basically, we are revamping all the resolutions (tabled over the years) into one and asking the government, the transport ministry, to open a file and to look at the possibility,” he said.

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Pointe-Claire Mayor Tim Thomas said he supports the concept of the Jacques-Bizard extension as along as it includes a highway interchange to Stillview Ave. to avoid bottlenecking traffic near Brunswick Blvd. or the REM station near Fairview Ave. Due to the height of the elevated REM structure along this stretch of the Highway 40 west service road, a new north-south artery would be required to pass under the highway, a design element that could increase the overall cost of a potential corridor project, he said.

“I think we need more north-south in the West Island in general. We bottleneck St-Charles and St-Jean tremendously by not doing so, and it’ll give greater access to the REM,” Thomas said.

While there might be local concerns a new Highway 40 interchange would bring more traffic to the Stillview and Hymus area in Pointe-Claire, the upside is that it would improve traffic circulation across the West Island, Thomas said.

West Island mayors must appeal to the agglomeration since it would be a regional artery, Thomas added.

“With the REM and with the increasing need for moving people environmentally, and encouraging people to use public transit, it would make sense,” he said. “Who knows, maybe the time has come. Maybe we will succeed in (lobbying for a new north-south artery in the West Island).”

Although it might be deemed essential for the West Island, a Jacques-Bizard extension combined with a new highway interchange will be a hard sell for local mayors, considering it’s a plan that has dragged for decades and that a proposed urban boulevard through a right-of-way from western Pierrefonds toward Kirkland’s REM station has also fallen through the cracks.

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