Loss of integrity in underground city tunnel causes evacuation of Downtown Montreal
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Several people noticed water infiltration in the tunnel over the last few days. On Friday, August 24, at 1 p.m., while investigating another water infiltration incident, The Bay employees noticed that the ceiling of the tunnel portion of The Bay's basement sales area had descended one inch over a 7 meter length. They subsequently called police. The police and firefighters evacuated the basement of the downtown Bay store. The police closed de Maisonneuve Boulevard from Aylmer Street to Union Street, over the area of the crack.
At 4 p.m., firefighters evacuated the Parkade Montreal Building and The Bay Department Store after finding pieces of concrete falling from the Parkade Montreal structure, a multi-story carpark with five levels of offices on top. They also evacuated the downtown portion of the Line 1 / Green Line of the Montreal Metro subway, from Lionel-Groulx to Berri-UQAM stations, and evacuated the McGill metro station, which is situated below The Bay tunnel. After consulting with city engineers, Centre 2001, the loading dock of the Bay and its Hertz car rental agency, Les Promenades Cathedrale underground shopping centre and office tower, and a neighbouring office tower to the Parkade were also evacuated. Police cordoned off an area from Bleury Street in the east to University Street in the west, and from Ste-Catherine Street in the south to President Kennedy Street to the north.
The closure of the Metro caused havoc to the Friday afternoon rush hour, as over 40,000 people regularly use the Green Line (Line 1) every day. Montreal Transit Corporation workers issued directions during the day, though some may not have been informed of a provisionary bus service to replace the lost subway service. Loudspeakers announced that commuters should use the unaffected Orange Line (Line 2), which has lines between 5 and 10 blocks south of Line 1 (Green Line), and also connects to Lionel-Groulx and Berri-UQAM stations.
The downtown area is intended to remain closed for at least the weekend, along with portions of the underground city, or RESO. The tunnel was built in 1966. For the last few days, city work crews have been working above the slab in question, digging a one meter trench to install a median and segregate a new bike path on de Maisonneuve Boulevard. The tunnel roof lies five meters below street level.
Residents of Montreal are frustrated with the crumbling infrastructure in and around the city, including the collapse of the de la Concorde Boulevard overpass over Autoroute 19 expressway last year, the shattering of a column holding up the Autoroute 720 Ville Marie elevated expressway last month, and other incidents.
- Ryan Bergen, Jason Magder and William Marsden, Max Harrold. "City core in chaos" — , August 25, 2007
- Sara Champagne, Bruno Bisson et Martin Croteau. "Le centre-ville paralysé" — , August 25, 2007
- Jason Magder. "Crack in slab to blame" — , August 25, 2007
- Debbie Parkes, Ann Carroll and Ryan Bergen. "Confusion adds to rush-hour scramble" — , August 25, 2007
- Ryan Bergen and Max Harrold, Ann Carroll. "Ejected from malls, waiting for answers" — , August 25, 2007
- Vincent Larouche. "Inquiétante fissure" — , August 25, 2007
- CBC News. "Workers reinforce cracked Montreal tunnel as downtown, Metro closures continue" — , August 25, 2007
- CTV News. "Mtl. streets remain closed amid tunnel concerns" — , August 25, 2007
- Patrick Lagacé. "Patrick Lagacé: La gangrène" — , August 25, 2007
- Presse Canadienne. "Le maire Tremblay tente de rassurer la population" — , August 25, 2007
- Presse Canadienne. "Affaissement au centre-ville: l'interdiction de circuler prévaut" — , August 25, 2007
- Bruno Bisson, Mario Girard. "Sérieux maux de tête pour les Montréalais" — , August 25, 2007
- Martin Croteau. "Des ingénieurs travailleront sans relâche" — , August 25, 2007
- CTV News. "Mtl. downtown core shut down over cracked tunnel" — , August 24, 2007
- CBC News. "Risk of street collapse closes part of Montreal's core, including subway" — , August 24, 2007
- Montreal Gazette: Falling Through the Cracks