Collapse Occurs at Ville Marie Tunnel Entrance in Montreal

A large section of a transverse concrete beam at the roof level of the transitional entrance to the Ville Marie Tunnel collapsed around 9:00 AM on Sunday July 31, 2011 narrowly missing the hundreds of motorists who were traveling nearby at the time.  Officials estimate that between  15  and 25 metric tonnes of concrete fell onto the eastbound section of highway.  Incredibly, no one was injured from the collapse, partially because of the relatively sparse traffic load on a Sunday morning.  On a normal weekday, over 100,000 vehicles travel this particular stretch of road.

Some repair and maintenance work was going on at the time at the 40-year old tunnel, but none of the construction workers were injured.  Some transportation officials have speculated to the media that the accident is a direct result of the current construction activities and not representative of the quality of infrastructure inspections.  A new pedestrian tunnel was being dug nearby but the impact of that construction, if any, has not yet been determined.  Engineers continue to investigate the cause and the eastbound section of the roadway will  remain closed for now.  Westbound lanes have been inspected and reopened.

Infrastructure Worries Abound

Local residents and officials are beginning to get concerned about the number of infrastructure problems the area is facing.     The Mercier Bridge which has been undergoing repairs for three year  as part of a $ 174 million rehabilitation not due for completion until 2013 was  suddenly closed in June of 2011 when 10 severely deteriorated (circa 1930) gusset plates were found to be in need of immediate repair. 

In addition to the Ville Marie and the Mercier concerns, a number of other major infrastructure components are in question at this time including:

  •   Turcot Interchange – Structural damage, concrete cracks and misplaced reinforcing bars have all been identified as potential problems (April 2011).
  •  Champlain Bridge – One recent engineering report indicates the bridge is in such bad shape that it should be completely replaced.  Officials are waiting on a second report before taking any final action of that nature.
  • Unrelated to failing infrastructure, but disturbing none the same,  a construction crane collapsed on St. Denis Street on August 2 just two days after the Ville Marie incident.

All these concerns are heightened due to the memories of the de la Concorde overpass collapse on Autoroute 19 in Laval on September 30, 2006 which resulted in five fatalities and a number of other injuries.

Not the Only City with Tunnel Problems

Montreal is not the only city experiencing failures with a major tunnel recently.  Boston’s Big Dig troubles have resurfaced when a lighting fixture fell into the travel lanes.  Galvanic Corrosion is suspected and several investigations are continuing.

Tags: , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply