With unpleasant surprises, the Mount Royal Tunnel poses a “significant challenge” to the construction site of the Metropolitan Express (REM) network, and everything indicates that the monorail will not be able to travel on this section in the fall of 2023. It is planned.
Posted at 5:00 am
If the drilling phase is over, the workers still have a lot on their plate, and they are able to see Journalismlast Wednesday, during a visit to assess the progress of work in this century-old tunnel.
CPDQ Infra, the project’s promoter, and NouvLR, the consortium responsible for engineering and construction, are not confirming the delay, but it appears to be a matter of time.
“It’s quite a challenge,” admits Jean-Philippe Pelletier, Deux-Montagnes segment manager at CPDQ Infra, when asked about the schedule.
Users who stamp their feet and who hope to be able to take the REM ride from Ruisseau station, in the Saint-Laurent district, to reach Central Station will likely have to continue to patiently endure their troubles.
The operation of the tunnel in the fall of 2023 is a major challenge. There are still exchanges to take place with the technical teams and meetings with our project partners in the coming months.
Jean-Vincent Lacroix, spokesperson for CDPQ Infra
He says the Quebec wool-sock subsidiary is on track to start operating the Deux-Montagnes and Anse-à-l’Orme antennas by the end of 2024. As for the Montreal-Trudeau Airport division, it will enter service after 2024.
Until then, the challenge was on the part of “implementation,” says Pelletier.
About 90% of the excavation work was completed – more than 60,000 holes were to be drilled in the tunnel. As evidence that work was progressing, at McGill Station, under McGill College Avenue, an imposing steel structure appeared.
“Six months ago, you weren’t there,” says Mr. Pelletier.
It’s not over yet
Underground, workers are still completing the repair of the tunnel. Heavy machinery still exists. The erection of the several kilometer long separation wall to separate the two roads has not yet been completed for safety reasons. Designed by a subcontractor, the delivery of wall parts continues daily.
On the ground, where the boulder is, a concrete slab was laid, but the installation of railway tracks on a section of about five kilometers has not yet begun.
“It is a complete transformation of the infrastructure, pleads Mr. Pelletier. It is of great complexity. There were 60 trains the day before and with REM, we are talking about 500 trains a day.”
In addition, the engineer argues, NouvLR has only been at liberty since May 2020. Since then only site administrators can work freely inside the tunnel, they claim.
The presence of the century-old dynamite, which caused an unexpected explosion in July 2020, slowed the excavation work, which had to be carried out 50 meters away in a sheltered container. The exercises had to be adjusted accordingly. No employee can be within 500 meters of the excavation site.
In addition, the significant deterioration of the tunnel due to the use of de-icing at McGill College and the absence of waterproofing membranes has forced developers to build a new vault, called the “canopy vault,” about 90 meters underground between McGill Station and Central Station.
COVID-19 and its impact on absenteeism have also slowed construction work.
When embarking on repairing an old tunnel like the Mount Royal Tunnel, the unexpected was inevitable, particularly in terms of excavation, says Jonathan Obertin, professor in the Department of Construction Engineering at the Higher School of Technology (ETS).
He said in an interview with Journalism. Of course there are always surprises, but we control them a little more. In a project like this [le tunnel mont Royal]You will have doubt and bad surprises. »
According to the expert, excavation work in the presence of “old explosives” such as the tunnel running under Mount Royal is an “almost unique” situation in Quebec.
In collaboration with William Leclerc, Journalism
- The REM network extends over 67 kilometers and includes 26 stations. The South Shore branch is scheduled to start operating this fall.
- 7 billion
- It’s the invoice from the Reem construction site. The initial budget was 6.3 billion.
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