Montreal Detour City – “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line,” said Archimedes, but in Montreal, thanks to all the road blockades, it seems that the shortest distance has been replaced by convoluted detours that motorists and buses are now forced to take. And that, if you are lucky enough that the detour that you took in the morning on your way to work has not been changed in the afternoon, adding extra time to your return home.
Since the city seems to be an equal opportunity dispenser of annoyance, this time it is not only those who are driving their cars which have been inconvenienced. Pedestrians, transit users, and even cyclists have also been subjected to this nightmarish experience of finding the right way to their destinations.
Montreals official Mascot the orange cone
Although the ubiquitous orange cones and cylinders that now are a kind of unofficial symbol of the city, are found everywhere in Montreal, this time the downtown area has had an excessive amount of streets closed and the subsequent detours. The works on Sainte Catherine St. announced a couple of years ago, are now in full swing between Phillips Sq. and the Quartier des spectacles. Very soon, these works should extend west, a prospect that scares merchants in the area. Of course, people understand that in some cases, particularly that of our leading commercial street, there is a need for some essential works (replacement of old water pipes). Moreover, people understand too that several other repairs such as fixing roads, changing old pipes, remaking of interchanges or improvements in the electricity or natural gas networks may be necessary, and that our short summer is the best time to undertake these works. However, would it be too much to ask for some planning in advance on the part of our city authorities? And to keep the public informed about these developments?
Guy Street around the Concordia campus
We say that because so far the most accurate way to describe the detour situation in the city is that of a total chaos. Some areas are subjected to closure while no apparent work is done, Guy Street around the Concordia campus, for instance, saw a lane closed for two weeks, forcing the move of a busy bus stop a block from the metro station’s primary access. Then suddenly this week the closure was gone: during all the time that the lanes were closed not a single piece of pavement was removed, in other words: the road was closed for no reason. Who was responsible for this: the bureaucrats who ordered the closing of the lane? The contractors for a job that for some mysterious reason someone decided that wasn’t necessary? Who knows? Neither the city nor the Ville Marie borough has bothered to inform the people on why the lane was closed. Peel St. above Sherbrooke has been closed for many months now, part of a renewal of the area, but, would it be too much for the borough of Ville Marie to at least tell the people why the works are taking so long?
Montreal streets and sidewalks are torn apart
Information gathered from other areas of Montreal allows us to describe it as an out-of-control situation: streets and sidewalks are torn apart, cars, bikes, and people have to take detours, and then the city doesn’t give any explanation as to how long the works will last. In some cases, some works are of questionable usefulness or priority, such as the widening of the sidewalks in some intersections.
Montreal has become “detour city” this summer, full of “rue barré” signs. Let’s wait until the next municipal election when voters put up a sign addressed to our elected officials: “foutez le camp!” (“Get lost!”)
Feature image: Sidewalks are being widened but in the meantime there are no temporary sidewalks for pedestrians in this area