Outrageous!

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Why didn’t anyone on Ste. Anne council read the engineering report before condemning the Exit 41 overpass?

Source: The Gazette

I’m not sure where to start. Oh, here’s an idea: What the heck is going on in Ste. Anne de Bellevue?

One could call how the town council handled the overpass dossier at Exit 41 off westbound Highway 40 a comedy of errors, but there is nothing really that funny about it.

For more than two years, the only exit to the municipality from westbound Highway 40 has been closed. Ste. Anne council claimed the overpasses on the north side of the exit were unsafe. These safety issues trumped the fact that no plan was in place to fix or replace the overpasses. But it was better to be safe than sorry. So Ste. Anne council opted for safety over inconvenience. They took a vote and condemned the overpasses.

More than two years later we discover that all those members of council who voted on this action never bothered to look at the engineering report. If they had, according to reports, they would have seen that the report never claimed the overpasses were facing collapse. They just needed minor repairs to keep them safe for the next 5 to 20 years.

They were misdirected by a new engineer hired by the town a few months earlier. But let’s go back. Let’s look at the timeline. Council took the vote to condemn the overpasses in March 2011. The engineering report that the motion referenced was completed in 2009. When it was first completed, the engineering report was brought to the attention of the town’s administration at the time. They looked at it and did not get all excited. Minor repairs were called for.

Then, in November 2009, a new council was elected. A number of key civil servants were replaced. All of a sudden in 2011, this old engineering report was revisited. And no one on the new council bothered to ask the question: If the situation with the overpasses was so critical, why did nothing happen for two years? Perhaps we should take a closer look. But no.

During the past two years, as motorists detoured their way around, we have learned about how the little town of Ste. Anne was financially responsible for the overpasses, an unfair byproduct of the nasty municipal merger and demerger process. It is an unfair situation. The provincial government should shoulder some of the cost of maintaining these structures. But shouldn’t the town’s administrators have picked up the phone and attempted to cobble together some sort of deal before condemning the overpasses? No. They did not.

The provincial government will eventually bail the town out of this mess. Although, no plan, design or timetable has been agreed upon. So it might take a while. But the other question still remains: Who will bail the poor taxpayers of Ste. Anne out of the mess they voted into to office? All competent administrators please step forward before the Nov. 3 vote.

If you live in Ste. Anne or on Ile Perrot and drive by those overpasses every day, I look forward to your comments.

Brenda O’Farrell