Fewer kilo­me­tres of roads slated to be fixed in 2019

Montreal Gazette - - CITY - LINDA GYULAI lgyu­lai@post­media.com

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.

JOHN KEN­NEY

The new cap­i­tal works pro­gram cuts $49 mil­lion for road re­con­struc­tion and ma­jor re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

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