mtl-ste-catherine-street-sinkhole

Crews have been working to fix the sinkhole on Ste-Catherine Street since Saturday. ((CBC))

Montreal officials say they're confident a large sinkhole that opened up on Ste-Catherine Street on Saturday won't affect upcoming Grand Prix celebrations.

The massive crater, between Metcalfe and Mansfield Streets opened up on Saturday afternoon, swallowing up the front wheel of a Volvo.

The hole was caused by a broken water main which had caused the ground to shift.

Work to repair the problem has forced the closure of part of Ste-Catherine Street, with traffic being rerouted onto Réné-Lévesque Boulevard.

"It looks grim, but we're optimistic" said Ville-Marie borough spokesman Jacques-Alain Lavallée told CBC Radio's Daybreak on Wednesday.

Workplace health and safety board regulations prevent officials from reopening one of the lanes to traffic, but he said the goal is to be able to reopen part of the street as early as Thursday. 

'The network is pretty old, it is 100 years old especially under Ste-Catherine and because of the number of cars and trucks that has increased over the years, it's extremely fragile,'—Ville Marie Borough spokesman Jacques-Alain Lavallée

The final coat of asphalt would be laid on Friday morning, he said.

Major work needs to be done to fix the problem, but with Grand Prix festivities being launched Wednesday evening, he said officials "don't have that time at this point."

"The network is pretty old, it is 100 years old especially under Ste-Catherine and because of the number of cars and trucks that has increased over the years, it's extremely fragile," said Lavallée.

Drivers and pedestrians in the area expressed frustration about the ongoing work on Wednesday morning.

"We've had emergencies [like this] every day for 25 years," said Éric Lefebvre, who works in the area.

"It's not a big pain for me because I know how to manage, but for tourists, they don't know where to go - that is Ste-Catherine Street!" he exclaimed.

The manager at the Tim Horton's Restaurant near the corner of Ste-Catherine and Metcalfe Streets, Robin Saunders said so far business hasn't been affected.

But, Saunders said he worries about the impression the construction work will give tourists visiting the city.

Other businesses in the area had a more optimistic view.

"[For] the Grand prix, everyone knows its tough to go all around downtown," said Alain Creton of Restaurant Chez Alexandre on Peel Street. "So, might as well get used to it today."

Lavallée said that borough officials have been assured that the area is safe and said there is clear signage warning pedestrians and motorists about the problem.