News | Water main breaks during McTavish construction

Repairs long overdue for half-a-century-old infrastructure

Correction appended September 8, 2014.

A water main in front of the Brown building was damaged on Friday during the continuing construction project on McTavish. The required repairs led the City of Montreal to close a segment of the McTavish sidewalk for the weekend.

Initiated in response to breaking water lines and flooding, the project has been in progress all summer and is not expected to be completed until October or November of this year.

With an infrastructure that is over fifty years old, the repairs were inevitable, according to Ken Outram, a flagperson responsible for the safety and security of the project. He told The Daily that the current sewer technology has not been modernized to be able to handle the magnitude of water flow that now needs to pass through.

“When the city was originally here, the sewers and roads were not built with the current population in mind,” Outram told The Daily. “They were never designed for the thousands of cars driving on it.”

The city of Montreal and the University have worked closely together to come up with solutions to ease the inconveniences of the construction. Pedestrian walkways have helped to retain the flow of walking traffic and have allowed for all of the buildings on McTavish to operate as they did prior to the construction project.

Adrian Nicolicescu, McGill Senior Project Manager of Facilities Operations and Development, told The Daily in an email that McGill has been in contact with building owners affected by the construction and has been working with them to “mitigate the impact from an operational point of view.”

“They collaborated [with McGill] during the final examination[s],” wrote Nicolicescu. “The same with [convocation] activities, they were communicated the same week they took place.”

Some events have been relocated by the construction, such as Street Fest, a component of McGill’s orientation week that allows clubs and services to table along McTavish and introduce themselves to new students. It was relocated to the Molson Stadium and integrated into Discover McGill, as were certain Frosh activities. The McGill Farmers’ Market has also been moved to the Y-intersection.

Nicolicescu also remarked that the work being done on McTavish does not financially impact McGill, as the project is being financed by the city.

Giving more information on the logistics of the construction, Outram told The Daily that the project aims to be environmentally friendly as, according to Outram, about 90 per cent of the materials taken off the site are recycled. The temporary asphalt bridges will also be recycled once their use on McTavish is completed.

“There have been no injuries throughout this project to workers or students,” added Outram.

An earlier version of this article stated that McGill closed the sidewalk. In fact, it was the City of Montreal. The Daily regrets the error.