With public opposition growing to the city of Montreal’s plans to award contracts to ethically questionable companies to fix potholes, and public demand still high for those potholes to be filled nonetheless, Montreal’s city council has finally found a third option that everyone can live with: Tear up the asphalt and just leave dirt roads everywhere.
The Applebaum administration announced the move the way it usually does, via a tweet from councillor Marvin Rotrand. He said the independents and the three city hall parties came to the unusual agreement that roads in poor state outside the downtown core would be stripped of their asphalt and left with dirt or gravel roads (most of the a mix of the two) until a more permanent solution could be devised. Those in the downtown core would still be repaved, since dust covering downtown would be more of a problem than switching to dirt roads would solve.
Highways and bridges, which are managed by the provincial (or, for some bridges, federal) government, are not affected by this measure.
While dirt and gravel roads sound like an interesting (if dirty) solution, they won’t come without a price. Even dirt roads need maintenance, and contractors will still need to be hired to tear up the roads and lay down the dirt. Fortunately for us, out-of-province construction companies can handle that job (dirt, unlike asphalt, doesn’t have to be poured immediately).
The conversion will happen in stages, with the most deteriorated roads getting the highest priority.
Rotrand said some practical elements, like how you mark lanes on a dirt road, will also need to be figured out. He hopes to get some ideas from a handful of European cities that have made the same transition, reportedly with quite a bit of success.
The measure will be put to city council at its emergency meeting this week for a vote. Rotrand said tearing up of streets could happen within two weeks of the special bylaw passing.