In Montreal, you get what you pay for

Image via Flickr
Image via Flickr

The state of our roads in Montreal is pitiful. They are constantly the subject of complaint and are always joked about by comedians and entertainers. To top it all off, Montrealers must endure more than four months of endless construction in the summer to apparently repair these roads, only to see them deteriorate in the winter. It’s a hassle for everyone involved.

It seems the king of all bad roads in Montreal can be condensed into the good old Champlain Bridge. Year after year, we hear horror stories of the state of the bridge, and how it’s on the verge of collapse unless some drastic repairs are done during the summer. It’s the same old story over and over again.

That’s why there was an enormous sigh of relief when the plans to build an entirely new bridge were unveiled. Commuters crossing the busiest bridge in Canada could finally do so with a clear conscious, and not worry about ending up in the waters beneath them, or even getting stuck in an hour-long traffic jam. This will be a state of the art bridge, costing the federal and provincial government between $3 and $5 billion in a project that will be active until 2022. The bridge is supposedly going to have a 13-kilometre-long light-rail system from Quartier DIX30 in Brossard to downtown Montreal, as well as two reserved bus lanes at all times.

Last but not least, the city plans to implement tolls on the new bridge. In a press conference last Sunday, Mayor Michael Applebaum released a statement saying that he wouldn’t want the commuters to be the only ones paying for the bridge.

“It would be unfair, even in a user-pays model, for drivers to be the only ones paying the bill as the citizens of the metropolitan region [already] contribute to the public treasury through their taxes,” the release states.

If tolls were to be implemented on the Champlain Bridge, then other bridges will potentially have tolls implemented for all crossings as well, according to the Montreal Gazette. Apparently the city is considering the use of a standard toll for all crossing the St. Lawrence. This would apparently discourage traffic jams and assure the building of a world-class bridge. According to Transports Québec, the funds collected from the tolls wouldn’t only go towards to the bridge, but towards other transport-related projects around the city.

Needless to say, Quebecers weren’t too thrilled about the implementation of tolls, especially after Transport Minister Denis Lebel said when the plans first emerged that “our government’s goal is to build a new bridge across the St. Lawrence with little or no cost to taxpayers.”

Lebel’s provincial counterpart, Pierre Moreau, said that he was completely dead-set against tolls. Others also had concerns over a possible toll system, including some NDP representatives who argued it could end up “gouging commuters.”

Montrealers everywhere are discouraged by the state of our roads and bridges. Not only are they a danger to all commuters, but they are destroying our vehicles and costing us thousands in useless repairs. It’s time we took matters into our own hands. The only way to improve the actual state of our transit system and to assure the building of a safe bridge and to start paying for it. It isn’t an ideal situation for commuters, but it’s the only way we can get the quality we deserve.

At the end of the day, the decision lies with the federal government and, whatever they decide, let us not forget that the current state of our roads needs to change, and that we shouldn’t be so quick to refuse polls.

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