Entrée interdite

St. Marc exit at René Lévesque Blvd.

St. Marc exit at René Lévesque Blvd.

If you’ve ever passed by St. Marc and René Lévesque, you’ve no doubt noticed this road and the signage that surronds it. In this picture, you see four no entry symbols, two straight arrows with red crosses through them, and the words “Entrée interdite” appear three times. The message is crystal clear: Do not drive down this road.

The overprotectiveness is for a good reason: this is a highway exit, and driving down it will have you going thr wrong way down one of Montreal’s busiest expressways.

But, also compared to other highway exits, its design doesn’t make it obvious that this is a dangerous road. You don’t see the highway in the background, and half the time (especially at low-traffic times) you don’t see the traffic in the other direction.

In addition, even those familiar with this area could easily confuse it for the Fort St. entrance a block away:

Fort St. entrance to Highway 720

Fort St. entrance to Highway 720

The same turn to the left, the same endless void beyond.

Many drivers, I think, have made the mistake of turning left at St. Marc when they meant to turn at Fort, realizing halfway through that they’d made the wrong turn. Embarrassed, they abort the turn and continue on René Lévesque.

Unfortunately for Diana Clarke, she wasn’t one of those people. The 45-year-old, for reasons that are not entirely clear yet, entered the St. Marc exit, drove along the Ville-Marie Expressway and crashed head-on into an incoming vehicle which was coming off the Decarie Expressway. The crash killed her, while the other driver had minor injuries.

There were mitigating factors. For one, it was just after midnight, making it more difficult to see some of the signs. The other factor is that the largest, electronic sign was partially burned out, and instead of reading “ENTREE INTERDITE” was reading “ENTREE II”. CTV has a picture of what it looked like before it was fixed. (UPDATE: A picture from October also shows the same thing)

The coroner’s office is investigating the death. Though police appear to have ruled out alcohol, it’s too early to say if signage was a factor or if the bad electronic display led to the crash (there were plenty of other signs that made it very clear this road is not to be driven down)

Don't turn right

Don't turn right

5 thoughts on “Entrée interdite

  1. mare

    All these sign are at the same point. If you miss them you are f*cked. There should be other signs 200 meters further (on both sides) where the road is narrower saying “Sens Mauvais! Reculez!” Or something in that vein. And maybe in English as well, drivers aren’t all from Québec.

    O and road entries should always be one lane only, that way they already are visual distinct from normal roads.

    The horrendous design of Québec roads is one of my pet peeves. Actually the whole design of the communal space. And of official forms. A lot of money and lives could be saved by improving that. For existing things but definitely for newly designed stuff.

    /stops before blood pressure goes up

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  2. Jim Todd

    The one thing that sticks out for me – if the St. Marc exit is never meant to allow for traffic in that direction (which is obviously the case, because it’s an exit from the highway), why would you need an electronic sign there? Would there ever be a message other than “ENTREE INTERDITE” on that panel? A simple back-lit panel with the same message and Do-Not-Enter symbols would be sufficient here…and no chance for a malfunction/misread of the message to worry about.

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  3. N. Syed

    I have a bird’s eye view of the GUY st exit from my bedroom window and I can tell you that I’ve seen a few cars go in that exit and in broad daylight. (8pm on a Saturday back in July. to be exact) When that happened the exit was actually closed I believe but that’s besides the fact, so I called 911 to let them know. But luckily after I put down the phone the car that went in came out again. And this other time I saw the car just turn into the exit by accident, but the driver realized immediately did a U and went the right way. Im not sure how this person did not see the markings on the ground, the 3 other NO enter signs and no realize when she entered the highway that all the mounted signs were facing the other way. High beams clearly light every sign infront of the car.

    Also the interdite has been burnt out for a long while, this picture seen here was taken in October. I didn’t think much of it because there were enough signs and painted lines on the ground to prevent anyone from going in the wrong way.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mtlguy/2950020561/sizes/o/

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  4. Jean Naimard

    Road signs suck in Québec because they are designed by engineers, and engineers are amongst the worst communicators that can be.

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