A major, multi-year overhaul of Ste. Catherine St. begins Monday.
Work will include replacing and improving the century-old underground infrastructure, as well as redeveloping the 2.5-kilometre stretch of the downtown artery between Atwater Ave. and Bleury St.
The first phase of the $95-million project, which will last from January to April, is from Bleury to Mansfield St. It includes the redevelopment of Phillips Square and Place du Frère-André.
New manholes will also be built from Mansfield to Robert-Bourassa Blvd., with work there ending in August.
These manholes will allow access to chambers holding equipment used for electrical distribution.
Check this map for more details concerning traffic obstructions and street closures resulting from the work scheduled for January, February and March.
Pedestrians will be able to access businesses and buildings for the duration of the work. The city said financial assistance will be granted to business owners whose bottom line may be affected by the construction.
Construction barriers could impact businesses located along the downtown stretch, but Mayor Valérie Plante's administration has been vocal about its intention to minimize the disadvantages. The point was reinforced by Councillor Robert Beaudry, responsible for the city's economic development.
The City of Montreal website boasts the project's intent to "completely redesign Sainte-Catherine Ouest," so that visitors will "experience the fresh new look of an improved high-quality urban landscape."
Work operations will be carried out on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., but the contractors can be called on to work 24/7, including on holidays, to meet contractual deadlines.
Under the original plan, the makeover included heated sidewalks and inflatable tunnels during the construction.
Mayor Valerie Plante hasn't said if the plans have been changed since her election.
When the plan was revealed in 2015, the city used words like “innovation,” “audacity" and “flexibility” to describe the greener, more dynamic look of the street, considered one of the longest in North America.
It also spoke of restructuring the road so it can be better shared between pedestrians, bicycles, buses and cars. Parts of the street could be pedestrianized during major events and busy times of year, and reopened to two lanes at others. An extra two lanes for parking would vary as well.
The sidewalk would expand two metres further into the street.
The street will also boast seating areas, free WiFi, intelligent lighting and charging stations for electric vehicles.
The speed limit will be lowered to 30 kilometres per hour, and at least 60 parking spots would be eliminated between Aylmer and Mansfield Sts.
The underground work is crucial to sewer systems and water mains, some of which date to the 1800s, and the city has long warned that if it is not done, another sinkhole such as the one that swallowed a backhoe in August 2013 could happen again.