Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois says she plans to call a public inquiry after learning about anglo Quebec’s best-kept secret: an exclusive expressway that avoids traffic jams and brings anglo drivers from the West Island to downtown in under 20 minutes.
News of the secret expressway, known to all Quebec anglophones but to no one who speaks French, leaked out on Monday evening after former Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe said he heard someone talk about it while he was at CTV Montreal’s studios for an interview on the election campaign. He said he was horrified to learn that this secret road had existed for years and that anglo drivers had been using it, all the while “laughing at Quebec’s francophone majority every morning and evening.”
The expressway’s route isn’t entirely clear, but appears to go from just west of Highway 13 and Highway 40 all the way to downtown Montreal through a tunnel that emerges in an out-of-the-way spot near the Ville-Marie Expressway.
“This is unacceptable,” Marois said.
It’s unclear how, if the Quebec transport ministry is unaware of this passage, how it’s maintained. Some people who had used it regularly said it was self-financed, charging tolls to the anglos who drove through it, as well as rent to a few businesses set up inside (gas stations, coffee shops and the like).
Marois said the passage should be immediately shut down until it can be determined that it’s safe. She worried in particular about its structural soundness and whether it had proper ventilation.
A preliminary report is expected within the month.