Quebec Crumbling

After decades of neglect, the infrastructure in the Canadian province of Quebec is in such bad condition that drivers are nervous going through tunnels and over bridges.
August 8, 2011, 8am PDT | Michael Dudley
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It's been a nervous summer for drivers in Montreal. The bridges are visibly aging, a pothole swallowed the front of a bus and a slab collapsed in a freeway tunnel. While extensive repair work is underway across the province, polling is showing that people aren't trusting government assurances about the safety of the province's infrastructure. As the Globe and Mail reports,

"Montreal went through a building boom during its growth-spurt years in the 1960s and '70s, and the concrete poured into the era's new roads and bridges is reaching the end of its 40-year shelf life. Unfortunately, successive governments failed to follow up with unglamorous upkeep. Inadequate infrastructure spending is a problem in cities across Canada, but seems to have affected Quebec more acutely. After the 2006 collapse of the de la Concorde overpass in Laval, which killed five people, a commission headed by former Quebec premier Pierre-Marc Johnson found that nearly half of all bridges in the province were structurally deficient and needed replacement within five years. By comparison, the problem afflicted about a third of Ontario bridges and one in 10 in the United States.

[L]ast Sunday, a 30-ton concrete beam fell across four lanes of traffic inside a tunnel on the Ville Marie Expressway, a critical downtown artery...Following the tunnel breakdown, the government began installing steel supports to shore up the structure. The tunnel is scheduled to reopen this weekend – for those daring enough to drive through it."

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Published on Friday, August 5, 2011 in The Globe and Mail
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