A summer of orange cones: with traffic low, province launches 50 road projects in Montreal

Any Montrealers working from home this summer will at least be saved from what promises to be a very ugly commute, in many directions.

Quebec announced Wednesday that it’s launching 50 infrastructure projects in the city, including repaving Highway 40 between Anciens Combattants and St-Charles Blvd, working on the Lafontaine Tunnel and reconstructing the Ile-aux-Tourtes bridge.

In fact, the government says it’s trying to take advantage of the relative lack of people on the roads in the pandemic and is starting as many projects as possible.

It’s also part of the new effort to restart the economy, partly through major infrastructure spending.

“Five hundred thousand people… will work on those projects,” said junior transport minister Chantal Rouleau.

She added that Montrealers should only need to look at the new Turcot Interchange to see that it all pays off in the end.

“We see today the result of those works,” she said. “How magnificent it is, the new approach [to] downtown.”

At the very least, the disruptions are nothing new, says former traffic reporter Rick Leckner.

“Disruptions are not new to Montrealers—we've been living in them for years,” he said.

“We survived the rebuild of the Turcot Interchange. I must give them chapeau because they did a good job.”

However, Leckner also said that a lot of the new, mammoth, fast-tracked infrastructure spending is being allocated to structures that are in relatively good shape already.

“What’s not being addressed here is some of the big issues, notably the Metropolitan Blvd.,” he said.

“They will be repaving it from Cote-de-Liesse right out past Viau. That's okay, but one of these days you're going to have to rebuild it—that roadway is over 55 years old.”

It’s important to remember, he said, that the 50 projects announced Wednesday are only the province’s share. The city also has its own infrastructure work it plans to do.

It all adds up to what may be a record-setting summer for orange cones.

For the full list of projects in Quebec and to explore what's planned for each city, see the province's publication.