Construction season promises to be a long one
The relief Montrealers surely felt when they woke up to a warm, spring-like day Monday morning was quickly tempered when they began their commutes to work and found the dreaded signs of another summer of discontent in the city – construction cones.
The warmer weather means the annual opening of infrastructure repairs in Montreal, and the city has announced $240 million worth of projects on 33 sites that span 17 of the city's 19 boroughs.
"These repairs have become necessary because the existing water mains have reached their maximum capacity and because of the age of the mains, more than 100 years old in most of the cases," said Richard Deschamps, the city's executive committee vice-chair in charge of economic development, infrastructure and large projects.
In all, 31 kilometres of roads and sidewalks and 60 kilometres of aqueducts and sewers will be replaced or repaired over the 2011 construction season, plus 14 projects to fix bridges or tunnels.
"Montrealers can be proud of the work that's been done to take care of their assets," Deschamps said. "One sign that we are making up ground is that since 2005, 316 kilometres of roads have been re-done and the most fragile water mains were repaired or replaced, which has allowed us to reduce our production of drinking water by nearly 11 per cent," Deschamps says.
Of course, when sitting in traffic due to lane closures many Montrealers are unable to see the benefits to this annual rite of spring, and several of them made that known to CTV Montreal's Camille Ross on Monday.
"I feel bad, I feel nervous," one taxi driver said, "because its traffic everyday."
Among the 33 construction sites is Parc Ave. between Mont-Royal and Laurier, continuing what has become a multi-year revitalization of the street's basic infrastructure and what has also become a veritable nightmare for merchants.
Projet Montreal city councilor Alex Norris wonders why the city has spent so much on what goes under the street, but so little on what is above ground.
"In other similar major commercial arteries where similar underground work has been done, city administration has spent millions of dollars improving the appearance of the street above ground afterward," he points out.
But Parc Ave. merchants say business is down 20 per cent since the massive re-build began.
"I'd like to see him invest some money into fixing the sidewalks, fixing the streets up in that area, any sort of economic development that we can get to help out," said Parc Ave. merchant Jimmy Zoubris
Most projects will get underway by the end of May, with some of the major ones slated for Pine Ave. and McTavish St., St-Joseph Blvd. between Parc and St-Urbain, fixing the Henri-Bourassa and Claude-Brunet bridges, and Roi-Rene Blvd. in Anjou,
Meanwhile, in addition to the city's 33 construction sites, the federal corporation that manages the Champlain Bridge also announced $30 million in repair work slated for this summer beginning in the coming days.
The bridge's expansion joints will be replaced over each of the next four weekends, reducing traffic to two lanes in one direction and one lane in the other direction through June 6.
The same restrictions will be in place for each weekend in August as the bridge gets re-paved.
You can get updates on the Champlain Bridge work at its website.