2013: The year of nonstop construction

By Abby E. Schachter

2013 has earned itself quite the reputation. Montreal residents have coined it the year of never ending construction. Absolutely no one was safe from the constant noise, traffic, blocked off building entrances, ripped up streets, missing sidewalks and ridiculous detours. Also, lest we not forget that massive sinkhole failure on St Catherine street. The one that swallowed a construction truck back in early August. From Decarie and Sherbrooke to Cote-Vertu and The Champlain bridge—the city has become completely engulfed by these so-called construction or beautifying projects.

Not only is this overwhelming to residents and tourists; it has Montrealers wondering how the city manages to pay for tall these pricey projects in the first place. In other words, is our taxpayer money being put to proper use? Are quality materials being bought or is the Government repeating past mistakes, and using cheap goods in order to save a dime a two.

“Honestly, the problem I have is that there are way too many construction sites blocking off routes and nobody is there, ever. It is always empty. There is no one working on them and when there are workers, there are maybe four at most.” Anita Brown doesn’t understand why so many sites are left unattended.

“I am constantly driving by these detours and they always look so abandoned. If you’re going to do a project at least work on it and get it done quickly!”

“Look every summer we complain and we complain and it’s the same old thing over and over again. This street gets torn up and that sidewalk needs fixing. There will always be a problem. I think the reason why we Montrealers get so mad is because the city is always fixing the same [expletive] streets! I mean c’mon already! Also, it is wintertime and there is still construction everywhere!” 

Elliott Albert says he is beyond frustrated and that the incessant noise and mess is affecting his well-being “I would tell whoever is in charge to stop wasting my money and stop doing touch up jobs. Fix the problem. You think if they had done a good job in the first place our infrastructures would be crumbling to pieces today? No. I know I sound like a grumpy old man and I promise you I am very nice except for when I start talking about construction in the city. It just makes a person angry, you know?”

“My reaction to construction, this year is that it was brutal. I want to say more but I think The Suburban would have to censor me because the words I am thinking are not nice and I have a mom reputation to uphold!” Dana Ackerman is a mom of two and she drives and picks up her children to and from school five days a week. “That’s not including our very packed weekends because of tutorials and extra curricular activities. The amount of time that I spend in traffic and then looking for a parking space is insane.”

Twenty-two year old Anna Petrus thinks the main issue isn’t necessarily the amount of construction but rather the inconsistencies and disorganization that goes along with it. She worries about a lack of communication within the re-routing department.

“I had a really scary experience la few weeks ago. The Champlain [bridge] was closed and I had finished work late, around nine at night. I followed the detour sign but when I arrived to the second location, there was another detour sign. After driving around for over an hour I ended up somewhere in Rivière des Prairies and I had no idea where I was. It was late and I had class the next day.” Petrus explained that she got lost by following detour signs leading to other incorrect detour signs. A nonsensical re-routing nightmare. 

“It was really confusing and I was really upset. It’s scary when you’re driving alone at night and you get lost and have no idea how to get home because nearly every route you take has a giant detour sign that brings you nowhere. It’s such a mess. I got home past midnight!”

This brings up important questions: Why is our city in such upheaval? Why are the roads and infrastructure, as Petrus nicely put it; in such a chaotic mess? 

Who decided that it would be a good idea to take on construction projects simultaneously in an overpopulated, disorganized (thanks to the boroughs) city like Montreal? Another interesting bit of information is that a lot of these sites seem to be working on areas that needed attention ten years ago; so why now? Why is 2013 suddenly the year to replace everything? Why is 2013 the jubilee of pavement makeovers?

“I think that we’ve gotten to a point where patch work just won’t work anymore. Ten years ago, the city was getting nips and tucks but now it’s time for a full makeover just because we have no other choice! If we don’t do this now everything will crumble. Bridges, buildings, roads et cetera.” John G. Khadakis thinks that construction is less of a choice and more of an ultimatum. “Time happens and either we start fixing everything now while we still can. Or we watch our city crumble to pieces, and I mean this literally.” 

Jason Roberts is a Notre Dame de Grâce tenant who has had enough. “I am seriously thinking about moving out of this area. Living at the corner of Decarie and De Maisoneuve has been awful. It started with the super hospital being constructed, then the road that leads to the hospital under the train. Then they decide to change all the sewer pipes on the same street. The construction is still not over and will probably go for another year. If the city would do a good job at fixing the roads then it wouldn’t be as bad, they just finished a section of De Maisoneuve and it actually looks worst then it was, there are already potholes.”

“For a month I was unable to get into the front door of my apartment because of a giant gaping hole in front of the entrance!” Natalie Paquette lives across the street from Vendome metro and she feels that constant inconveniences is what has residents steaming. “I swear this happened on a few occasions, where I am about to go to bed and I hear outside my apartment window, construction trucks revving up their engines. It is like midnight and these guys are working on the roads?! There have been other times where I’ve been woken up on a weekend at 5 a.m. to the sound of construction. I don’t understand. Isn’t that illegal? Isn’t it considered noise pollution?”

David Pier-Elkae admits that he gets way more annoyed during the winter season. “It’s cold out, you know. It’s winter. I want to be able to get into my apartment—but no. I have to walk all the way to the back of the building and then go up four flights of stairs. It’s exhausting after a long day of work and even worse when you’ve been grocery shopping. At least warn [tenants] in advance. Let me know what is going on so I don’t end up parking my car across the street and then having to walk around the block in freezing cold weather just to get to it because you’ve torn up the left side of the road! It’s all such a waste of time! Pier-Elkae, like so many other residents, wants to stop worrying about potholes, detours, noise pollution, dust and no parking. “I have had the biggest headache since last January. Here’s hoping it goes away soon and that 2014 will be a whole lot better.”

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