February 24, 2024

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Montreal Transit Company | The Bellechasse garage cost more than half a billion

Montreal Transit Company |  The Bellechasse garage cost more than half a billion

Twice as expensive, twice as much. Société de Transport de Montréal’s (STM) Bellechasse bus garage is estimated to cost more than half a billion dollars and won’t be delivered until summer 2024. Press.

Posted at 7:30 pm

Philippe Teixeira-Lessard

Philippe Teixeira-Lessard

The huge pit dug to build the underground building turned out to be a bottomless pit for the transporter: much less solid rock than expected, and the extension of the site forced emergency work to stabilize the temporary structure. All of these add up to bills and deadlines. The garage was originally estimated to cost 254 million and will be completed by the end of 2021.

“It’s not a comfortable situation as a general manager, I tell you,” STM general manager Marie-Claude Leonard said in an interview Friday. Press. “We currently have an order of magnitude of between 525 million and 600 million to finalize the Bellechasse transport hub. »

As for delivery, “we are no longer in the water of summer 2024”. “Commissioning will happen gradually after the summer of 2024,” she added.

Photo by Dominic Gravel, The Press

At the end of last June, torrential rains revealed weaknesses in the ground and the structures put in at the start of work to stabilize it.

Once started, the work will accommodate 200 buses, including electric buses, and replace the Saint-Denis garage.

“For me, the important thing is that we do everything, we manage public funds and we manage them well,” said Msgr.me Leonard, on the phone. We will be able to explain why we reached these amounts and learn lessons to improve through it. »

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The STM should ask the Montreal City Council to take back the money to pay the new costs of the project. The exact amount will be announced next month.

Urgent tasks

The Bellechasse garage is located near the intersection of Boulevard Saint-Laurent and rue de Bellechasse in Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie.

At the end of last June, torrential rains revealed weaknesses in the ground and the structures put in at the start of work to stabilize it. An engineer commissioned by STM reported that a small scree (“score”) had occurred on the face of the hole. Shops and residences are nearby.

In a situation where “the lives of people or equipment are at risk”, the STM can issue an emergency contract, which it did, Mr.me Leonardo. “There is a sense of need. Tenders have been called to find a contractor to strengthen the rock, but we have been assured that the risk is averted.

Engineer’s Report Press A structure erected on the side of the pit to prevent rock slides – explains the “anomalies” and questions the longevity of the “Berlin Wall”. It was only designed for two years: it became obsolete due to delays in the project.

This is not the first time that STM has identified problems with the quality of the rock being excavated.

From the beginning of the project, in 2020, “we realized that there was a piece of stone that was of poor quality,” said Ms.me Leonardo. When the workers opened the pit, “the situation developed in the wrong direction”.

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“Pre-feasibility studies were not adequately detailed and the rock analyzes we didn’t do [prévu] The stone stakes we had later,” she said. “We had to have solid stone. »

Inflation and labor shortages

In addition to these contingencies, STM offers other explanations for the cost explosion: the initial budget did not provide for a large enough contingency fund, while labor shortages and current inflation played up the cards.

“At STM, we want to learn from what we learn,” says Smt.me Leonardo. For us, there are lessons learned in project management that can be applied at other levels, [notamment] To ensure that our pre-feasibility studies are sufficiently detailed and comprehensive. »

STM’s owner did not want to rule out the possibility of lawsuits against companies that produced rock analyzes that proved to be wrong. “If we can prove that there is wrongdoing and error in this case, we should expect STM to get the money it deserves,” she said.

The Bellechasse garage was originally intended to be built on the surface, but the STM decided to convert it to an underground structure at the end of 2018.

A budget increase from 254 million to 370 million has already been announced in May 2020.

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