Montreal crews lift backhoe from gaping sinkhole

A backhoe was successfully lifted out of a giant sinkhole on Tuesday evening in the middle of one of Montreal's busiest thoroughfares.

City executive says infrastructure problems stem from decades of poor investments

Watch as cranes lift a backhoe from a three-metre deep sinkhole. 9:31

A backhoe was successfully lifted out of a giant sinkhole on Tuesday evening in the middle of one of Montreal’s busiest thoroughfares.

The sinkhole opened up Monday morning as city workers were readying to inspect a leaky sewer pipe under Ste-Catherine Street near Guy Street.

The backhoe and its operator fell into the collapsed portion of the roadway. The driver escaped uninjured.

Earlier on Tuesday, Richard Deschamps, the member of Montreal's executive committee responsible for infrastructure, said he hoped to have the intersection open to traffic as soon as possible.

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Crews used two cranes to lift the backhoe out of the three-metre deep sinkhole.

The sinkhole, just the latest in a series on Montreal streets, drew a steady stream of onlookers on Tuesday, though the area remained closed to vehicle traffic.

According to Deschamps, Montreal's infrastructure problems stem from underfunding.

He said there was a lack of investment over the past 40 years, and now "we’re paying for it collectively."

Jean Fortier, an engineering consultant and former chair of the Montreal executive committee, said the city should be doing more to prevent this kind of thing from happening.

"Unfortunately I was not surprised it happened," he said. "I don't believe there is enough monitoring."

Guy Street is expected to reopen soon, but it could be several days before traffic is flowing on Ste-Catherine. Work on a similar-sized sinkhole that formed last year on Sherbrooke Street closed a portion of the busy roadway for more than two weeks.