Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What's an Aqueduct?

A week or so ago, the city hung some flyers on our doorknobs, alerting us to future construction work that was going to take place on our block. Yesterday, we got a more detailed memo. I'll translate the crucial paragraph for you:

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport and the Environment of the City of Montreal informs you of the beginning of reconstruction work on the drainways dating from 1907 and the aqueduct dating from 1931 on your street.

The work will begin September 28th and finish in the month of December.

During the construction period, a temporary aqueduct network will be put in place. The quality of the potable water will not be affected by the work; you can drink it with no risk.

The memo refers to two elements that are going to replaced: "la conduite d'égout" and "la conduite d'aqueduc". I think the former is the system that takes the waste waters out via pipe (conduite means pipe and égout means sewer or gutter) and the latter is the one that brings the freshwater in. In neither english or french could I find a definition for aqueduct that distinguishes it as being dedicated to fresh water (it simply is something that transports water), but I think that is the distinction that is made in the memo.

I won't translate the second part, but it's the best. The street is going to be closed the entire time to all traffic and parking. I know this is going to be quite a hassle for some of my neighbours who own cars and will probably cause some noise and disturbance for me and my lovely new bride. But I have to admit that my schadenfraude is quite stimulated by this news as I know there are several people who live on our block who own cars and drive to work regularly, yet they work near a metro station. I also know that a lot of people drive into our neighbourhood for either work or partying and a lot of them have access to public transit. So I will rejoice in their annoyance and frustration over the next several months.

The sidewalk will not be blocked off or worked on, so foot passage should be unperturbed.

Personally, I'm very psyched to see the work. They've been replacing these pipes all over Montreal this summer and it's a pretty big job. It seems to depend on the block, but in some places they have dug up the entire road to a depth of over 20 feet. I quite enjoy seeing the old tunnels, support structures, pipes and other bits and pieces that were put in the ground decades (even possibly a century ago, if the city's dates are correct). I always enjoy a good construction project, so it will be great to have front row seats.

On the other hand, the quality of public works in Montreal, especially these kinds of municipal projects, is particularly poor. At the base level of productivity, I imagine most of the time I'll be watching a big open hole and a bunch of parked machinery. The city is riddled with corruption and powerful unions and the combination does not light a fire under the asses of the workers and their bosses. I've also seen some of the finished roads and it's some piss-poor work. Instead of properly finishing the roads or the sidewalks they've broken open with concrete, they have used a ton of asphalt to patch it up, leaving ugly inconsistencies between the sidewalk and road (and rendering the gutters less free-flowing).

I'm sure you are all as excited as I am, so be happy to know that I'm going to be keeping a running log of the work, with pictures and commentary.


boulet said...

Nice! I'll enjoy the pictures for sure. Aqueduc is a supply of fresh water. The distinction is implicit because during antiquity nobody would have bothered to pipe anything but fresh water... (the French entry on wikipedia restricts to supply of fresh water while the English one is broader, I guess it's a case of faux ami)

Oh and congratulations to the recently married :)

WeSailFurther said...

Sweet. Can't wait to see the pictures...