It has been a long time coming, although it is never a good time for construction-weary commuters in this city. Transport Quebec announced that the Ville Marie and Viger tunnels will be undergoing work over the next three years, starting Monday August 12th. Most of the work will be done on the ceiling of the tunnels to repair the concrete components of the infrastructure – and parts of it need to be removed in order to do so.
The work is part of a plan to maintain the tunnel until a major overhaul takes place, although it is unclear when it will happen. According to Maxime Guay, a communications advisor for Quebec’s Minister of Transport, there will be partial or complete closures of the tunnels, but mostly at night and on weekends. It could still cause headaches for commuters, who are already dealing with other detours and work around the area – but it is imperative the work be done. Back in July of 2011, maintenance work was being done on a wall in the Viger tunnel when a very large piece of concrete fell from the ceiling near the Hotel-de-Ville overpass. The Ville Marie Expressway was completely closed to traffic in both directions between De la Montagne and Panet – and fortunately nobody was hurt or trapped in the tunnel at the time.
The Ville Marie tunnel opened in May of 1974. It descends 36 metres below the surface and part of it runs below water level of the Saint-Lawrence River. Heated cables were placed in the joints to prevent water seeping through from freezing and causing damage. It originally cost $120 million to build and is considered one of the most solid and lasting road structures in Quebec. Daily information and schedules on the closures can be found on the Québec511 website at: www.quebec511.info/en