NEWS
08/25/2011 06:21 EDT | Updated 10/25/2011 05:12 EDT

Province Pledges Millions To Ease Traffic Woes

Quebec has pledged $110-million to fight congestion in Montreal, proposing several measures to take pressure off the island's overwhelmed arteries.

The measures, announced Thursday, are a bid to relieve mounting frustration over chronic gridlock that has plagued the city's highways and bridges all summer.

Proposed measures include:

- 40 km of reserved bus lanes.

- 1,000 new parking spots at metro stations on the South Shore.

- More bus service to provide space for 22,000 riders per day.

- 50 per cent increase in capacity on commuter trains.

- 1370 parking spots at commuter train stations.

Elected officials are also urging people to consider using public transit more often - and hope to entice new users by offering one month's free public transit with purchase of regular-fare subscription.

Quebec is also launching two dedicated traffic radio stations - English and French - which will provide live reports seven days a week, from 4:30 a.m to 1 a.m.

The province promises to improve its website for traffic and road information.

Last week, the city of Montreal announced measures to alleviate congestion by synchronizing traffic lights and postponing some roadwork projects.

The city has also approved the temporary opening of the Champlain Bridge ice bridge to buses and emergency vehicles.

The route is normally available only to cyclists and pedestrians but, starting mid-September, will also be used by 50 buses a day.

The Metropolitan Transport Agency (AMT) said it will spend $300,000 to upgrade the bridge and road along the St. Lawrence River to accomodate the limited traffic.

That plan and its price tag is already drawing criticism from municipal opposition party Projet Montreal.

"This is not a solution," said party leader Richard Bergeron. "This is very amateur. . . Montrealers deserve [a] better solution."

Bergeron questioned the amount of money being spent to accomodate only 50 buses.

The AMT said it has to place a cap on the number of vehicles that can use the route everyday because of the bridge's load capacity.