Montreal-Reconstruction of Ste. Catherine West and St. Denis Streets
Ste. Catherine Street West and St. Denis Street are now Seasonal Pedestrian Zones
Sainte Catherine, Montreal’s main downtown commercial street is undergoing a major reconstruction and is being designed with seasonal pedestrianization in mind. Currently, the six-block section from De Bleury to Mansfield, known as Phase One, was recently completed. Work on the $387.5 million multi-year project began in January 2018 with no completion date yet announced for the subsequent phases. However, Ste-Catherine St. W. in the Quartier des Spectacles, from de Bleury St. to St-Laurent Blvd. is complete, and the approximately 700 meters / six blocks of Ste. Catherine Street West demonstrates the innovation, quality and intent of the reconstruction. This section was made pedestrian only this summer from May to October.
Statistics show that pedestrians make up 70 per cent of the street’s traffic and the next phases of street reconstruction from de Bleury Street to Atwater Street (2.3 kilometres), will be expanded to become a pedestrian priority area as well. The sidewalk space is being increased by 60 per cent, up from the current 43 per cent for sidewalks and 57 per cent for street pavement to 68 per cent for sidewalks and 32 per cent pavement respectively. There will now only be a single lane for motorists and parking has been eliminated.
The most visible enhancement are the widened sidewalks on both sides of the street. The former traditional concrete pads have been replaced with paving units of different colours and textures. The former sidewalks and pavement were torn up and replaced with a lowered granite edge and underlying concrete slab “to ensure minimum settlement and flatness of the structures in the long term” . There are also linear drainage gutters installed on both sides of the street pavement itself. Curb cuts are flush with the pavement making for a seamless transition for people in wheelchairs. “Granite is used for curbs and the watercourse has been lowered to 50 millimetres instead of the usual 150 millimetres, all in order to promote seasonal pedestrianization” say City of Montreal staff.
The most challenging work was underground. Some of the infrastructure dates back 140 years. This includes brick sewers dating from 1890 buried more than 8 meters deep. The City of Montreal has employed many innovative approaches such as hydro excavation for replacing the cast iron water pipes and addressing differing water pressures for high and low rise buildings, all in an effort to maintain service to property owners and tenants throughout the reconstruction period. For example, sewer work, was done in the middle of winter, the time when residual flows are lowest. The technique needed a complete bypass of flows, therefore required constant pumping to ensure maintenance of services to adjacent buildings and to avoid backups. The City of Montreal notes that “This technique, without mass excavation, has rehabilitated nearly 400 linear meters of pipe in just four months of work….A standard excavation method would have required much greater soil displacements and several additional months to complete.” To minimize the project timeframe, work was carried out according to a 24-hour schedule where the teams took turns without interruption. The next step in the reconstruction was to rebuild and refurbish all the drinking water, fire protection, electricity, telecommunications and gas distribution, also located underground. The last stage was surface reconstruction. While traditional streetlamp design has been maintained, lights have been replaced with LED bulbs and electrical outlets are incorporated into the street furniture for street buskers and others to plug into. Besides reconfiguring the pedestrian-to-car ratio the street is being “greened” with 95 trees in planter pits. Lastly, Ste. Catherine Street is also turning into a “smart street.” The street will have free Wi-Fi, intelligent LED lighting, an “innovative smart parking” application, implanted greenery, and all-season street furniture, including uniquely designed flat benches.
St. Denis- Seasonal Pedestrian Zone from de Maisonneuve to Sherbrooke Street
Reconstruction work on St. Denis in the Latin Quarter Business District ( SDC Quartier Latin) has started at the intersection with de Maisonneuve Blvd., but quickly reverts to the original street infrastructure as you head north to Sherbrooke Street. St. Denis St. from Sherbrooke St. to de Maisonneuve Blvd., represents about 650 meters of roadway in total. To promote seasonal pedestrianization the SDC Quartier Latin has employed a number of inexpensive techniques including programming, signage promoting local businesses, and the “agora maximus” seating platforms with plantings. The Agora Maximus by LAAB Collective have the following technical description: an assembly of pixels of 5 different heights in painted steel and wood. The pixels can be used as platforms, seats or planters. These modular platforms were set up in several locations in 2023, and will return in 2024.
Pedestrian Only Areas- summer 2023
- Ste. Catherine Street West (including parts of Balmoral and Clark ) from de Bleury to St. Laurent (May 1- October 31).
- St Denis (as well as Emery street) from Sherbrooke to de Maisonneuve – (June 1-September 30 – 12noon to 6 am daily).