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Driving towards a solution

by The Concordian August 30, 2011

It is often joked that Montreal has two seasons: winter and construction. This year, the ladder season seemed unnecessarily harsh.

The traffic congestion experienced this summer by Montreal’s drivers was not the result of conditions specific to the period between May and August of this year, but of poor urban planning. When erecting our roads, highways and bridges, the various levels of government involved decided to take the cheaper route. While the tax-payers at the time probably saved millions, what they got clearly cannot stand up to either the level of traffic or the harsh weather conditions to which they are subjected.

Things do not need to be this bad. Anyone who has had the good fortune of driving, biking and walking on the roads, bridges and highways of Montreal’s neighbour to the south, Vermont, will tell you how vastly superior their transportation infrastructure is in relation to ours.

Northern Vermont, which experiences nearly the exact same weather conditions as Montreal, has roads that are preferable to ours, and require much less maintenance. Vermont invested heavily in their transportation infrastructure years ago and has since avoided the need for regular, costly and disruptive road work.

Like Vermont, we need to focus on long term use, rather than short term. Fixing our  infrastructure in such a way would cost many millions of dollars; money that none of the levels of government involved want to spend.

As such, it seems most fitting that the people who will benefit most directly from such improvements should have to pay for them. The municipal, provincial and federal governments could raise millions of dollars for such projects by charging a toll for the use of many current roads, bridges and highways, and as well for those that will be constructed.

Furthermore, more funding for the construction of quality, long-term transportation infrastructure can be generated by adding additional fees associated with license and registration payments.

Not only would charging drivers help generate more revenue to build and maintain the roads that they use, but it may also make driving a financial luxury some could not afford. This promises to further improve Montreal’s horrible traffic problem, and benefit the environment as well.

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