August 2, 2011

Construction criticism

This is what happened in Montreal over the weekend. A giant piece of concrete fell near the entrance of a tunnel on a major road frequented by 100K cars a day. Fortunately it happened on a Sunday morning when thankfully most people were off the road. 

The sad irony? It happens to be the middle of what is called the "Construction Holiday" in Quebec. A time when most construction shuts down for an entire two weeks so employees can take paid vacations (in addition to other vacation time). Bright orange signs and barricades remain up clogging traffic, but there is very little construction action on the roads in Montreal. We have always thought it was silly as winters are harsh and summer is an ideal time to jam on those projects. But, it's a union/political thing for the most part and these people need a break. In the summer. In construction "season."

Louis and I just returned from some time spent traveling in Canada (Toronto) and the northeast U.S....Niagara Falls, Cooperstown, N.Y. and the coast of Maine. I noticed right away in Toronto the clean and well maintained roads and infrastructure. It's the polar opposite of Montreal where freeway overpasses are dark and dingy due to age and lack of maintenance and have nets attached to them to catch the falling concrete rocks that can easily slam into the cars below. On our drive we appreciated the state of the U.S. roads too. Despite the debt ceiling issues, I never once felt like concrete was going to fall from the "ceiling" of a freeway. (Obviously, there are many roads in the U.S. in need of repair and there have been bridge tragedies and more, however, we will never complain about that after living in Montreal.)

Montreal is an island. The only way to get to the island is via a selection of bridges...most of which are in dire need of repair and it's not uncommon for bridges to be closed in any given day to to "expansion joint" issues. The government knows it's an issue...but instead they keep putting band-aids on the bridges  while keeping inspection reports out of the media so that we don't know the extend of the dangers all while blaming budgets when there is so much corruption in the construction industry and bureaucracy beyond belief. Several weeks ago someone said the area in the above photo was just fine.

I crossed the Camplain bridge yesterday to come home and noticed all sorts of noises coming from my car that I had not heard for a was as if I decided to take my little Ford Escape Hybrid 4 wheeling. Each and every time I cross that bridge, I cross my fingers. 

My mom was visiting once and commented on the scary bridge. I though she was going to start with the rosary as we approached the structure. She said she couldn't the believe the condition of the roads. To which I said, "yes, but we have 'free' health care." And she commented "good, you're going to need it."

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