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Pedestrian traffic will remain rerouted for the entirety of the 2016-2017 school year (Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette)

McTavish blocked by City of Montreal construction

McGill/Montreal/News by

Projects to continue through Spring 2017

Major construction projects on and around McGill’s downtown campus are set to cause inconveniences and challenges for students lasting through the 2016-2017 year. The City of Montreal’s Promenade Fleuve-Montagne urban project–part of next year’s 375th anniversary celebration of the city’s founding–is a beautification initiative aiming to improve the comfort and safety of pedestrians, who make their way to and from the St. Lawrence River and Mount-Royal.

According to the project’s vision, the work will include replacing the sidewalks as well as sewer, water, and gas mains on Sherbrooke from Peel to University. Additionally,  McTavish will be made more pedestrian friendly between Sherbrooke and Docteur-Penfield, while maintaining easy access for emergency vehicles. Work is scheduled to take place from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. every week from Monday to Saturday.

According to Associate Vice-Principal (Facilities Management and Ancillary Services) Robert Couvrette, university personnel have been working closely with city officials and Montreal police. This partnership aims to reduce any inconvenience and disruption caused while keeping McGill’s roughly 30,000 downtown students safe as they traverse campus.

“We have had many meetings with the City in preparation for this work and we […]now [have] a weekly meeting with them,” Couvrette said. “We are in constant communication to be sure every aspect of the project goes well in terms of security, the safety of the McGill community, work coordination […], and so forth.”

According to McGill’s construction advisory page, the city agreed to halt work during both the Spring and Winter examination periods to allow students to study without disruption by construction activity and heavy machinery. As for the university’s contribution, the number of McGill security personnel on duty in the areas surrounding the construction has been increased. The MacDonald campus shuttle has been relocated to the east side of McGill College street, just south of Sherbrooke.

Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Ollivier Dyens advised students to give themselves extra time to get to classes, stay on the designated pathways for crossing construction zones, and to follow instructions from police, McGill security officers, and construction workers.

“Above all, be patient, keep calm, and carry on,” Dyens told the McGill Reporter in August. “We’re stuck with this City of Montreal road construction for several months. The University is in close touch with the City to try to minimize the disruption, but these are massive infrastructure improvement projects and they will be noisy, dusty, and inconvenient.”

Students have expressed their disappointment with the fact that McTavish has become an open pit for the second time in three academic years.

“I have to think a lot more about all of my previously simple commutes again,” Emilie Macfie, U3 Political Science, said. “I have enough to deal with as a student and each time I get stopped by a huge truck pulling out of McTavish, or find out that my way to class or a meeting is blocked, it adds a lot of inconvenience to my day.”

Couvrette also urged students to be patient and to tolerate any unforeseen delays or problems that might occur during the next eight months, but was optimistic about the project finishing on time.

“Given that these projects are connected to a centrepiece project for the city's 375th anniversary next May, there will probably be a greater sense of urgency than might otherwise be the case,” Couvrette said. “Digging up old pipes and other infrastructure is never without surprises; delays are common and aren't necessarily anyone's fault. It's like home renovation – you never know what you're going to get when you open up a wall.”

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