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First the Main, now it's downtown's turn

Construction. Major projects have merchants, drivers in grumble mode

 

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Motorists negotiate the traffic and construction at de Maisonneuve Blvd. and Guy St. yesterday. The statue of Norman Bethune has been removed while work is under way.DAVE SIDAWAY THE GAZETTE, JASON MAGDER, The Gazette

 

If you want to know how much it has snowed this winter, head for Place Norman Bethune at de Maisonneuve Blvd. and Guy St.

 

The square, which is the cornerstone of a $22-million facelift for the Concordia University neighbourhood, has been cordoned off with metal fences since October. As a result, snow banks have grown to three metres.

 

However, the transformation of Place Bethune is only one of three major construction projects under way on the corner.

Motorists negotiate the traffic and construction at de Maisonneuve Blvd. and Guy St. yesterday. The statue of Norman Bethune has been removed while work is under way

 

Like the merchants caught up in the seemingly endless construction on St. Laurent Blvd., those in this corner of downtown feel choked by street work. While improvements are wrapping up on the Main, crews are just getting started on the Place Bethune beautification project that is expected to last at least until 2011.

 

In the meantime, it' a corner of hell for motorists and pedestrians.

 

"Nobody passes by here anymore," said Mohammad Saken, 28, the manager of Dépanneur Beau Prix on de Maisonneuve west of Guy.

 

"It's already our second year with construction here, and it looks like we're going to have long-term construction. That's going to screw up our business big time."

 

Some merchants complain the constant construction is also dangerous.

 

Saad Salem, the kitchen manager at the Château Kabab restaurant, said he saw a man fall into a hole, which had been dug three weeks ago by the city's Electrical Services Commission to work on underground wiring on Guy north of de Maisonneuve.

 

"A few days ago, a handicapped man fell right into the hole because he didn't see it," Salem said, adding the man wasn't seriously injured.

 

"The company came the next day and put up a fence around the area. But they made the hole and then left it like that, without doing any work. That wasn't a great idea."

 

Serge Boileau, president of the Electrical Services Commission, did not return calls yesterday.

 

Merchants say they are pleased the city is spending money to beautify the area, but say the timing is bad, coming after a summer in which they had to contend both with construction on a new Concordia business school and jackhammers installing a bike path along de Maisonneuve's south side.

 

The bike path is completed, but cyclists, pedestrians and motorists have an obstacle course of four construction sites to negotiate just to cross the street.

 

A southbound lane of Guy is closed from de Maisonneuve to Ste. Catherine St. while crews working on Concordia's new John Molson School of Business building, as is part of de Maisonneuve west of Guy. The north side of de Maisonneuve between Mackay and Guy Sts. is also blocked by traffic cones and trailers, which are used by construction foremen as offices.

 

"It's slushy and dirty and it hasn't been cleaned up in ages," said Melissa Ajamian, 21, who lives on St. Mathieu St. "You used to be able to just walk through this area, but now it's very difficult."

 

Sylvain Ducas, the city's project manager of Place Bethune, said it will take two years to complete the work on the square.

 

"We could have done it in one year, but we need to keep the street open," Ducas said. "I'm sure the merchants will agree with that."

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C'est du pipeau ce que dit le proprio du dépanneur. Qui prend une voiture dans ce quartier pour aller au dépanneur ? Voyons !!Il n'y a tellement pas de place de stationnement et tu risques de tourner en rond tellement longtemps avant de trouver ta maudite place justement qu'un résident va préférer marcher pour aller au dépanneur. Pire : tu retournes chez toi et tu risques de tourner encore en rond encore une fois pour stationner devant chez toi. C'est vrai sur le Plateau : j'imagine que c'est pire au centre-ville. C'est sûrement pas lui qui va être la plus importante victime des travaux.

Par contre, je ne comprend pourquoi ça devrait prendre jusqu'en 2011 ??!!?? Sylvain Ducas dit que les travaux s'échelonneront sur deux ans. Ils ont été commencé en 2007 : ils devraient donc se terminer au plus tard à l'automne 2009. pas 2011 !

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Tu comprends pas Yara, on s'en fiche des gens du quartier, ils sont acquis au commerçant.

 

Comme tout commerçant, il cherche a avoir plus de clients, et on lui coupe l'herbe sous les pieds parceque les gens qui passent par là en auto ne pourront plus s'arrêter! C'est ça que tu comprends pas. Le gars passe en char, et il vois le dépanneur, il veut quelque chose, poof impossible de se garer nul part, même pas pour 2 minutes illégallement avec les flashers ;)

 

Il va continuer et va aller plus loin, donc la perte pour le commerçant se matérialise.

 

P.S. oui ça m'est déjà arrivé d'arrêter à ce dépanneur plusieurs fois quand j'étais en auto. C'est sur la semiane c'est difficile se garer, mais les soirées et l'été il y a plus de facilité.

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moi j'ai hâte de voir le produit fini...puisque je ne vais que très très très rarement au centre-ville en auto, les places de stationnement en moins ça ne m'affecte pas....moi j'aime bien les espaces piétons....surtout l'été....

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OK Je comprend mais ça ne me viendrais pas à l'esprit de m'arrêter à un dépanneur du centre-ville quand je sais qu'il y en a dans mon quartier le long desquels je peux stationner aisément.

D'un autre côté, devrait-on ne jamais améliorer les infrastructures juste pour faire plaisir aux commerçants ? De tous temps les villes doivent refaire les infrastructures. Il y a des inconvénients. Ça fait partie de la vie. Je trouve cela ridicule qu'on nous ressorte à chaque fois les inconvénients auxquels doivent faire face les commerçants. C'est comme ça, c'est tout. Imaginez qu'on nous aurait bassiné avec des articles du genre dans les années 1960 pendant la construction du métro !! Ce que ces commercants devraient se dire c'est qu'il y aura certainement plus de clientèle après les travaux parce que le secteur sera plus convivial.

J'ai vécu pendant deux ans sur la rue Brébeuf près de Saint-Grégoire et pendant ces deux ans-là, j'ai vu la reconstruction de la rue St-Grégoire et ensuite des condos en cosntruction non-stop : j'ai eu de la poussière dans la maison provenant de ces chantiers-là tous les jours. J'ai pas appelé les médias pour me plaindre !! J'aurais même pas accepté de passer dans les médias si un journaliste s'était pointé sinon pour lui dire qu'une ville se construit, se reconstruit et que si on est pas prêt à accepter qu'il peut y avoir des inconvénients de la sorte qu'il faut aller vivre ailleurs. Ce que j'ai finalement fait par ailleurs.

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Short term pain for long term gain.

Once the area is completed, there will be facilitated pedestrian and bicycle traffic, which, let's face it, are the real customers/users of this area.

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