Almost 30% Of Montreal Construction Cones & Signs Have No Purpose Other Than To Annoy You

A study found that around 27% of orange cones and signs have "no reason to be."

Senior Editor
Orange construction cones on a snow-covered Montreal sidewalk.

Orange construction cones on a snow-covered Montreal sidewalk.

A new report backs up Montrealers' frustrations with the seemingly ubiquitous orange cone. The 84-page report commissioned by the Chambre de Commerce aims to push the city to reform its traffic and construction zone management. It examines the policies and circumstances that produce the city's dizzying, at times non-sensical tangle of roadwork and gridlock. It puts data behind residents' theories. And the result is pretty damning.

In one instance in September 2022, the firm that produced the study found a whopping 604 construction signs and cones within an area of just 2.2 square kilometres downtown. Of those 604 posts, 27% "had no reason to be," the firm determined.

It said that though the volume of orange signage in the city makes it "impossible to estimate the exact number" of signs and cones, the ratio of useful-to-pointless in that single downtown district seemed to more or less align with the citywide breakdown.

The firm concluded that both provincial rules and ignorance of those rules contribute to this redundancy.

First, it noted that the Ministry of Transport (MTQ) standards for construction signage are consistent across urban and rural areas. That means that the same work on a country road and a dense downtown street would have a comparable number of notices. And because the MTQ norms favour overuse, blocked-off areas can be disproportionately large compared to the scope of roadwork underway, the report authors say.

Moreover, though MTQ norms limit orange cone deployment to short-term and highway construction, the firm found that orange cones are now used "systematically" during roadwork.

The Chambre de Commerce is calling on the city and province to "adapt the current approach" to the "specific environment" of downtown Montreal.

Thomas MacDonald
Senior Editor
Thomas MacDonald is a Senior Editor for MTL Blog focused on Montreal public transit and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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