La Fontaine tunnel commuters cope with first day of lane closures

La Fontaine tunnel commuters cope with first day of lane closures

The day many commuters have long feared has finally come: the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel closures have begun.

Starting Monday morning, half of the six lanes inside the tunnel will be shut down for three years, so the Quebec government can carry out urgent repairs.

The tunnel, which is a vital link between Montreal and its South Shore — used by over 120,000 vehicles daily, including thousands of trucks — is expected to become effectively undriveable during rush hour.

There are only two lanes open for drivers heading toward Montreal and only one for those heading south.

Cars were already starting to slow down at 5:30 a.m. Monday, as optimistic drivers aimed to beat the rush, though the situation has not yet led to gridlock.

Others have opted to skip the tunnel entirely. Julie Richard said she was doing her part, and opted to ditch her car at a park-and-ride lot in Boucherville to take public transit.

Simon Nakonechny/CBC
Simon Nakonechny/CBC

"It may take more time, but we have to adapt," she said.

That extra time was on Danielle Laberge's mind as she prepared to tackle the tunnel Monday morning. She and her colleague Martine Guay plan to carpool to work at CEGEP Marie-Victorin in the Montreal's east end.

To use the carpool lanes between the South Shore and Montreal, there much be three people in the vehicle. Both Laberge and Guay said they're less worried about getting into city but are concerned about the return trip back to the South Shore.

"That is a big question mark today. We don't know how much time it will take to come back home," Laberge said. "We'll see."

WATCH | How traffic looked on 1st day of tunnel lane closures: 

Guay said she worries about getting home so late that she doesn't get to spend time with her family.

"I usually go to work out, go to the gym in the evenings, but I think I'll have to abandon that," she said.

"All this time we're sitting in traffic, we're not correcting our students' work, we're not preparing our courses — so it's stressful."

A Transports Québec spokesperson, speaking to CBC, explained that Mondays tend to be lighter for traffic — and suggested that many parents may be working from home for Halloween.