Overpasses didn’t need to be closed

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How many errors will we allow before we vote these people out?

Overpasses didn’t need to be closed
Source: The Gazette

Stating it went beyond what was required, a former Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue mayor says condemning two Highway 40 overpasses, which triggered the closing of Exit 41 more than two years ago, was an error made by the administration that followed him out of office.

Bill Tierney, who had been a longtime mayor of Ste-Anne, made the statement after being asked by residents about a July 2009 Genivar engineering report that had been cited when the town council voted unanimously to close the overpasses in March 2011 for safety reasons.

Days after council voted to close the overpasses in March 2011, a city engineer told The Gazette the study determined there were key areas of the overpasses that were in a “critical state” and “nearly every element of the overpasses is in need of repair.”

“They made a mistake. They thought they could out face the ministry,” said Tierney, who is a columnist for the West Island Gazette. “They didn’t realize you have to collaborate with those people. “Once you close it, you can’t open it again (without fixing it).”

Tierney said the Genivar report suggested there was no immediate danger.

“The Genivar report didn’t say the thing was dangerous. It just said there were some short-term things to do and then you can do some medium-term things, which would keep the bridge going for another five, 10, 15 or 20 years,” Tierney said.

“Basically, they blew it. They made a bad decision. They shut the bridge without working with the Ministry of Transport. They thought the ministry would come cruising in to pick up the tab and get the thing rolling.”

Ste-Anne is responsible the overpass and has spent the past two years attempting to negotiate with Transport Quebec to absorb the cost of replacing it, with the mayor stating it is a regional artery and beyond the small municipality’s means.

Ste-Anne director general Martin Bonhomme confirmed Transport Quebec presented the city last week a protocol agreement to proceed with a T-style interchange, adding the city is still reviewing the document. He declined to comment on whether the province is willing to fund the proposed project. He plans to meet again with Transport Quebec officials before making a recommendation to council, which will then make the final decision to proceed or not.

Last year, the city had been considering the possibility of replacing the overpasses with a roundabout which could have cost an estimated $6 million.

Councillor Paola Hawa, who initially voted to close the overpasses in March 2011, is now suggesting the city should reconsider repairing the existing structures as opposed to replacing them with a new T-interchange.

“It is clear those overpasses should not have been closed. I have read the reports now,” she said.

The Genivar report, which the current mayor has declined to make public, actually negates the idea the overpasses had to be closed, Hawa said last week.