Canada/City of Montreal tackles "ghost sites
Meeting with its partners at a "construction summit" on Thursday, the city government outlined a strategy to improve the management of long-standing construction sites on the streets and reduce "unnecessary signage" that hinders traffic flow, ahead of a new orange cone season.
At the summit, which brought together owners, developers, contractors, civil society and municipal representatives, the City proposed As a first step, the City proposed a 12-hour time limit for the installation and removal of construction site signage in order to reduce road obstructions.
This imposed time window is intended to eliminate ghost work sites where signs and detours remain in place for days around work sites that have not yet started or are completed.
Noting that some work sites may need to be suspended for a variety of reasons, the City is planning to give additional authority to theMobility Squad officers will be given additional authority to demobilize inactive work sites and, if necessary, revoke permits to occupy public property following two notices of unwarranted inactivity.
The signage needs to be there at the beginning of the work, it needs to be removed right after the work. Not three weeks later," explained the mayor of the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, Luc Rabouin.
"We want people to be able to see changes this summer, during the construction season."
- A quote from Luc Rabouin, mayor of the borough of Plateau-Mont-Royal and member of the executive committee
Finally, to give its regulations more teeth, the City is considering increasing the value of the fines issued by the Mobility Squad officers. The new fine amounts will be revealed at a later date.
Seven additional officers will also be hired for the Mobility Squad, which will increase to 23 officers this year.
Road works that drag on and hold up traffic for too long are a major irritant in Montreal and a major source of lost time and money for citizens and businesses alike, as well as for visitors who flock to the city's streets in the summer.
According to a study by the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal published in January, 94% of downtown streets were partially or totally obstructed at some point between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022.
In all, no less than 5,521 temporary public domain occupation permits were issued by the borough of Ville-Marie that year. The study also showed that almost all of these applications were approved by the City, i.e. 96.4%.
A census exercise conducted in September 2022 in a specific area of the downtown revealed that 27% of orange cones, signs and other markings had no reason to be on the street.
More centralized coordination of work sites
In Montreal, it is the boroughs, not the central administration, that issue public domain occupation permits to contractors and clients for roadwork, which is a lot of permits on an island that has 19 boroughs and 16 municipalities.
In order to coordinate all of this, the City uses an internal platform called AGIR (Assistant à la gestion des interventions dans la rue) where all of the work permits granted by the boroughs, whether to the CSEM, the STM or the RTU, can be found.
However, it must be noted that, in recent years, the overall management of construction sites has raised many questions in Montréal, where congestion has reached record levels in certain sectors, particularly in the downtown area and on the approaches to major expressways. Major construction projects such as the Turcot Interchange, the new Champlain Bridge and the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine Bridge-Tunnel have also contributed significantly to the problem.
The City is aware of the problem and is proposing to use the expertise of its central road network infrastructure department before work permits are granted in the downtown area, on major arteries and in sectors considered sensitive.
This will ensure that professionals with an overview of traffic and road obstructions are able to better coordinate and minimize the impact on the entire network," said the City in a news release.
The City is also announcing that the City will now require contractors and owners to submit a traffic maintenance plan before a permit is granted to work on priority arteries. This plan will need to include the space occupied and anticipated detours. The plan will be reviewed by the City prior to the issuance of a permit, it is stated.
Smaller and fewer orange cones
From an aesthetic standpoint, the City notes that construction signage is an irritant to the quality of the environment and will study with the Ministry of Transportation the possibility of replacing the traditional orange cones with smaller bollards or any other safe signage device.
In addition to reducing the size of the orange cones, the City will also reduce the number of cones on the roadway to maintain the aesthetics of the streets.
As technology knows no bounds, the City is also considering equipping signage, including orange cones, with a chip or QR code to identify who owns them and facilitate the removal of abandoned equipment from the streets.
All of these proposals from the City are on the agenda for discussion at this worksite summit.
The City has done its homework," said Luc Rabouin, Mayor of the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough. We have put concrete proposals on the table. We are in discussion, because we want to make sure that our proposals are feasible and that is what we are discussing with the community today.
We also want to hear additional proposals because we want things to change now," continued Rabouin, who said he senses an openness on the part of the city's partners who also want to improve things.