Construction at Bleury & St. Catherine

As November winds to an end, so does the Fall 2012 construction / destruction of Bleury in between De Maisoneuve and St. Catherine. As I was walking to the office on Friday they were trying to level off the new road with the old parts of the road. The quality of the new asphalt is questionable and there are large chunks of the sidewalk that were damaged that are not yet fixed.

From the looks of the project they first replaced the water mains into the main buildings along Bleury (and ripped out parts of the sidewalk and put them in some kind of soft temporary asphalt for months). The next step was to replace all the old water infrastructure below the street that clearly was looking its age.

The photo in the header of this post was taken one random day in October, and exemplifies the pace and lack of seriousness that the crew took in the development of a project in one of downtown’s busiest thoroughfares. While I don’t know why some days there were 10 people there and some days 5, the photo above shows in vivid detail what it looked like on one of those day that there was, yes that’s right, one person on the whole site.

So, here’s what in that photo; one person. What are the high tech tools in their hand to ensure the quality of the project? A shovel. And what are the tasks he’s performing to speed along this project? he is very slowly shovelling rocks from one pile of dirt into a small hole.

There are a few questions I really would like answered here:

  • What was the goal of this project?
  • What was the budget of this project?
  • What was the timeline of this project?
  • What was the expected daily workforce?
  • Does a project get fast tracked if it’s seen to have a major impact on the city?

Given that the corruption of our construction industry now under a microscope (see the Charbenau commision), it would be easy for me to try and tie this seemingly slow paced, unmanned shoddily done job to someone lining their pockets with cash. But this is a different problem. This isn’t one of the higher ups sloshing around money, this is about the quality of work that we as citizens are then delivered. I’m not civil engineer but to my untrained eyes, the quality of the asphalt used to pave our roads seems destined to crack and bubble up, which usually takes 6 months to happen. I don’t know what’s generally wrong here but if these crews are working to produce the lowest quality work possible so that they have to return to do the work again in a year or even 5, then this is corruption that needs to be dealt with as well.

We need to let these contractors and workers understand something; Montreal is a big, old city that will always need work done. I suspect that if you did high quality work and just kept moving from site to site that you would never run of work and our city would obviously be in noticely better shape. I don’t think we should be shy to expect the use of high quality materials, modern construction techniques and ask people to take the pride of a craftsmen in the work that you do.

Is that too much to ask? Is that too much to expect? Is there any way to get the people building and maintaining this city to agree?


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