Fewer kilometres of roads slated to be fixed in 2019
Whether the work falls under the heading of repaving, minor repair, patching or complete reconstruction, the City of Montreal is budgeting to redo fewer kilometres of roads in 2019.
The city is forecasting an almost 22-per-cent drop in the number of kilometres of streets it will repave or rebuild next year compared with 2018, the new three-year capital works program shows. The spending plan presented by Mayor Valérie Plante on Thursday calls for work on a total of 258 kilometres of the city’s 4,070 kilometres of arterial and local road networks in 2019. The work is grouped into eight programs that cover reconstruction and major and minor work. It’s 56 kilometres less than what was budgeted for 2018, when it was grouped into six programs.
“It’s very worrisome,” Lionel Perez, interim leader of opposition Ensemble Montréal, said.
“We see a reduction in budgets from one program to the other and we see a reduction in kilometres from one to the other. And the net loss is substantial.”
A big drop from 2018 to 2019 is in the number of kilometres to be reconstructed, which renews a road from its underbelly to its surface, and to get major and minor rehabilitation, which entails scraping off all or some old asphalt and laying a new surface.
Sylvain Ouellet, the city executive committee member responsible for infrastructure, cautioned that the kilometre count can be deceptive because some roads that get major work may be multiple lanes wide. So a kilometre-long stretch of road may cover more surface than a narrower street that was redone the previous year.
The Plante administration is also putting the onus on integrating roadwork with water and sewer infrastructure work and sidewalk repair to reduce the number of times a street is shut for repair, he said.
However, Perez challenged Ouellet’s argument about wider roads, saying that the kilometre count includes wider and narrower streets in any year. Montreal says a rebuilt road lasts for 20 to 25 years.
The new capital works program slashes $49 million from the city’s traditional program for road reconstruction and major rehabilitation. It’s actually two programs — one for local roads and one for arterial. Their combined budget in 2018 was $159 million. In 2019, it drops to $110 million, with a drop in the number of kilometres to be redone.
The 2018 forecast was to rehabilitate 16 kilometres and reconstruct 39 kilometres of local roads. For 2019, it drops to 13 kilometres and 24 kilometres, respectively.
For arterial roads, the 2018 forecast was for 25 kilometres to be rehabilitated and 33 kilometres reconstructed. In 2019, that drops to 11 kilometres and six kilometres, respectively.
However, Ouellet said work under the traditional program is being sloshed into a new local road program and new arterial road program that will integrate other work, such as changing the street geometry and widening sidewalks.
Nevertheless, 18 kilometres of arterial road and 10 kilometres of local road are to be redone in 2019 under the new programs, which doesn’t make up what’s being cut in the traditional program, Perez said.
Another drop is in a program for scraping and resurfacing of arterial roads, which extends the life of a street by seven to 12 years while it awaits reconstruction. The 2019 forecast is to redo 105 kilometres; it was 144 kilometres in 2018. The local roads forecast is unchanged.
The new capital works program cuts $49 million for road reconstruction and major rehabilitation.