Toll spans seen as potential gridlock antidote

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MONTREAL, Que. — Fleets and commuters heading through Montreal may eventually have the option of paying to use a private bridge or tunnel between Montreal and the South Shore.

Two large construction consortiums are sure the idea is a winner, and will make their pitch at public hearings set to begin today. Provincial approval would see the creation of Quebec’s first private highway or bridge. The private sector is already active in the financing, building and operation of private toll facilities elsewhere in Canada.

Toronto has private Hwy. 407, which runs north of and parallel to the public Hwy. 401. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia also have privately financed and operated highways. And private investment played a role in the construction of the Confederation Bridge linking New Brunswick and P.E.I.

During the next three weeks and then later in the fall, the provincial Consultative Committee on Improvement of Mobility between Montreal and the South Shore will look at ways to ease gridlock in a way that’s cost-efficient and mindful of environmental and urban-sprawl issues.

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