Montreal to drop $1.2B on roadwork, find ways to make getting around less terrible

The Plante administration says it’s going to try to make sure all the construction won't be too disruptive for Montrealers.

Plante administration coming up with ways to ensure construction isn't too disruptive

The city has a lot of roadwork to do this year (and beyond), and is trying to make sure it won't be too disruptive for Montrealers. (Etienne Leblanc/Radio-Canada)

It doesn't look like spring yet, but a traditional Montreal rite of the season took place Monday — the announcement of the city's roadwork and infrastructure priorities for the year.

There are a lot of projects. The city is spending more than $1 billion to execute them. And  — perhaps most importantly — the city will still be a total headache to navigate.

But the Plante administration says it's going to try to make sure that the construction isn't too disruptive to Montrealers.

They plan to improve current bike paths instead of adding new ones, and better identify detours for pedestrians and cyclists. 

The city is also pledging to implement penalties for construction companies that don't finish on time, and bonuses for those that finish on time or wrap up early.

And a key to the plan is doing work more efficiently — for example, instead of just fixing roads, they're going to look at how they can improve that road while they are fixing it.

That could mean installing wider sidewalks, reconfiguring parking and creating safer bike paths as part of a project called Vélorue.

The first street getting an overhaul is Saint-André in the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough. It will become a cycling-first street, meaning bikes will have priority over cars.

Executive committee members Sylvain Ouellet and Marianne Giguère announced the Vélorue project at City Hall Monday. The first street in the project, pictured on the television, is Saint-André on the Plateau-Mont-Royal. (Verity Stevenson/CBC)

The street's underground water infrastructure is being rebuilt. At the same time, the street will be repaved, get new lighting and larger sidewalks, at a cost of $26 million over the next two years.

The city also won't be adding any new bike paths this year, but says it will be making existing ones safer. 

Marianne Giguère, the executive committee member responsible for sustainable development, said that in the past, when the city had to fulfil a kilometre goal of bike path, it would often simply paint symbols on streets. 

"We want to go beyond that," she said.

Efficiency is the key

Spending will increase to $1.176 billion, up by just under $500 million from last year.

Among the major projects for this year are:

  • St-Denis Street, from Jean-Talon and Jarry streets. Will last until 2021, cost $33 million.
  • St-Hubert Street, from Bellechasse to Jean-Talon streets. Will last until 2021, cost $60 million.
  • Ste-Catherine Street, from Bleury to Mansfield streets. Will cost $82 million over three years.

A total of $542 million will be spent on roads, sidewalks, bridges and tunnels. Another $348 million will go to waterworks, including renovations to an old reservoir in Westmount, unused since the 1970s.

Upgrades to water infrastructure, you'll remember, was the reason behind the water tax hike in Valérie Plante's first budget.

Other major projects, such as redoing Peel Street and Ste-Catherine, are getting $96 million.

With files from Verity Stevenson