A few years ago I lived in China for a couple months and I couldn't believe how quickly the air pollution made me sick.
Just a few hours I stepped off the plane I instantly developed dry, red, and gritty eyes, my tongue actually turned black for a bit, you don't even wanna know what happened when I would blow my nose. Needless to say, the long-term effects of perpetual construction are not pretty.
Humans, although incredibly adaptable, are not designed to live under constant physiological stress, and the byproduct of construction - noise, air, visual pollution - can have some incredibly profound effects on the body.
1. Non-stop cringe-inducing noise pollution
Not only does construction waft up loads of dust and debris, the sound of construction is absolutely horrendous. Especially if it starts at 7am sharp and you're unlucky enough to live near a construction site. In fact, recently a Westmount resident won a class-action lawsuit seeking compensation for the disturbance caused by construction on the Ville Marie Expressway, and he won!
Up to 12,000 residents who lived near the highway are eligible for up to $3.5 million in compensation in this case against Transport Quebec. Sounds like a lot but in the end, it's only about $3,500 to $5,600 per household, and they are still stuck with this perpetual noise hell.
2. Paralysing traffic jams for commuters
Traffic is a huge pain in the butt for any daily commuters. But in Montreal, we get the short end of the stick all year round. In the winter we have to deal with the snow and the traffic caused by frequent removal. And in the summer we have to deal with traffic caused by construction. It's basically a fail/fail.
By now we are all aware of which main arteries and highways to avoid. The same ones such as Decarie Expressway and Turcot Exchange seem to be giving everyone a perpetual headache. But new ones are popping up constantly, for example, the Mercier bridge is about to be reduced to one lane.
3. Severe loss of profit for local shop owners
If any given Pharmaprix or Metro grocer is hit with a dip in traffic due to nearby constructions, for a company that size, it's no big deal. But for small businesses, shop, and restaurants, a loss in visibility and foot traffic can mean the kiss of death for their business.
For example, Notre Dame Street West, a street known for trendy new restaurants was under construction for over a year, the city spent 10.5 million to replace the borough's aging pipes. This massive construction had a dramatic effect on local businesses, causing not only profit loss but severe stress for shop owners. Mayor Valérie Plante recently unveiled a new plan that will compensate merchants for profit loss during long stretches construction. It's the least the city can do!
4. Deadly pieces of concrete falling from above
We sometimes hear horror stories of huge slabs of concrete falling on cars or entire beams crumbling to the ground during construction season. Although these instances are rare, they are very real and do happen.
Even the smaller construction sites on busy pedestrian streets like Bishops Street downtown means constantly having to be alert and vigilant of where you are walking. Take one step in the wrong direction and bam, you can easily trip over a pothole and hurt yourself. Getting to work has become a dangerous and stressful urban obstacle course. Constantly dealing with chronic low-grade stress can a profound and insidious effect on the human body. This isn't good for us.
5. Air pollution causing severe health problems
A few years ago I lived in China for a few months. When I first set foot in Shanghai, within a few hours my eyes became bloodshot and felt so gritty and dry I couldn't stop blinking. Of course, Montreal isn't anywhere near the level of pollution China has seen. But we have our own fair share of health issues arising from perpetual construction.
Residents that live near the Turcot Interchange - which is under perpetual construction - in particular, have complained in the past about how construction is deeply affecting their everyday health.