Montreal plans to scale back road repairs
The City of Montreal says it is going to scale back road repairs and focus on long-term construction designed to make the city more "livable."
In other words, the city is going to cut back on patching potholes, and will instead spend money on rebuilding roads and increasing the number of bicycle lanes, widening sidewalks, and planting trees.
Many roads are currently being repaved to extend their life cycle by an average of ten years. The Plante administration said it wants to refocus its efforts on roads that need to be completely rebuilt and use the occasion to redesign them, as it did on Papineau, north of the metropolitan.
“We have to seize the opportunity to redesign the street when we need it. The objective must not only be to give nice smooth asphalt,” said Executive Committee member Eric Alan Caldwell.
A 2016 report into the state of Montreal's roads said that if city maintained its infrastructure budget at current levels it would never bring roads and other infrastructure to acceptable levels considering the lack of work done over several decades.
The Coderre administration was already aware of that infrastructure deficit, and had increased spending on roads and waterworks by one-fifth in 2016, from $5.24 billion to $6.39 billion.
Then-mayor Denis Coderre said Montreal would also need to spend nearly $7 billion on 5,000 km of roads and sewers by 2026.
In 2013 about 70 km of roads and sewers were undergoing major repairs, and that increased to 300 km per year in 2017, with a plan to increase this to 500 km/year.
The Projet Monteal administration now says this plan is unfeasible, and says some of that planned work would not last long enough to warrant doing.
Mayor Valerie Plante's administration says that by spreading construction work out over a longer period of time, people will find it more manageable. This new approach means montreal will have to wait until 2028, instead of 2023 to catch up on decades of neglect.
Caldwell said it's a different philosophy altogether.
"We have to realize that it was kind of insane to think that we could pass from 300 kilometres of road maintenance to 500 kilometres. That was the plan. That plan is gone," said Caldwell.
The opposition at City Hall is not happy with the administration's decision, and said it would ultimately lead to longer projects that will make things worse.
“What they're saying is we'll be doing less on roads, more sidewalks, and more changes to streets,” said Ensemble Montreal leader Lionel Perez. “Well, there’s an urgency to act. Everybody knows that when there are potholes in the spring, when the shock absorbers are broken, it's because the road conditions are very poor.”