Cover photo cred - Joel Balsam
Last Friday I left Montreal for the weekend. Well, I tried to leave. When I got to the Champlain Bridge it took me AN HOUR AND A HALF to cross that goddamned thing. You wanna know why? Because there was only one fucking lane open on that stupid ass bridge that 160,000 commuters cross daily! Well that's not true. Going out of the city on Friday, they did open up a lane on the other side of the concrete divider that usually separates the traffic going onto and coming off of the island.
Wait what?! Yea, there was a lane into oncoming traffic, separated only by those big Montreal traffic cones. The ones that look like they could NOT stop a car from crashing into you. That's safe right? Not if you're going 60 km/hr. By the time we got to the single lane traffic, we had left the lane of stop-and-go and finally got moving. People were so angry at having sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic for the past hour that they were definitely not going slow. Safety first, right?
As some of you may know, traffic on the bridge has been caused by efforts to repair a two-milimetre crack in one of the concrete beams that holds up the bridge.
This is not an isolated problem. It feels like ever since I moved here four years ago, this city has been constantly under construction. The construction grinds traffic to a halt and turns the streets of Montreal into a battlefield, where everyone is trying to cut in front of someone else to get a few extra inches deeper into the traffic.
This past summer, construction on Avenue des Pins to fix a water main leak created hell for drivers and bus commuters trying to get through downtown. Ave. des Pins usually acts as an alternative route to Sherbrooke, which is congested as it is. Work on the water main under des Pins had started in October 2012 and was supposed to be done at the end of August 2013. But once the water main was "fixed" and the road was repaved, the water main sprang a leak and the street was dug up again and traffic rerouted.
Without des Pins this summer, Sherbrooke was impossible to get through on four wheels. I could walk faster than the bus could inch it's way down the street.
All around us the city's infrastructure is crumbling. This comes down to neglect on the part of this city, and Montreal has paid for the neglect.
According to the auditor-general, the maintenance of infrastructure has been underfunded for years. In 2010, the spending deficit -- the difference between what Montreal should be spending on infrastructure and what they actually spend on infrastructure -- was $3.8 billion.
Crumbling infrastructure is a huge issue for businesses too. According to a Montreal Gazette article, the business community sees the crumbling roads and bridges in Montreal as a top priority. The reason is that if roads close it could REALLY hurt business. For example $20 billion worth of international trade dries over the Champlain Bridge every year, a huge loss for the national economy if the roadway were to be wholly closed.
All you have to do is remember the sinkhole on the corner of Ste. Catherine St. and Guy St. this past August, or the water-boil advisory on the city of Montreal in May to know that things aren't right.
Get your shit together Montreal, and fix this! Don't just patch it up, really fix it. If we keep skimping on infrastructure we, the people of Montreal, will be royally fucked.
The Angry Anglo