Deadline concern over Vendome metro $1.7 million overhaul

MONTREAL — Montreal is planning a major overhaul of the Vendome metro station that will affect thousands of transit users from the West Island and improve access to the McGill University Health Centre superhospital… but some question whether the work will be completed on time.

As many commuters already know, getting around Montreal by car is tough enough at the best of times; but the repeated call by public officials for people to use mass transit doesn’t always make commuting an easy alternative.

Now, some transit officials are trying to change that.

Montreal’s public transit corporation, the STM, is granting a $1.7 million contract to renovate the Vendome metro station and make it easier for commuters to navigate.

Some of the measures call for widening the stairwells, moving the turnstile to a new location and creating more space for commuters to move around.

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“The station has to be changed so it’s easier for people to access and leave,” STM vice-chairman Marvin Rotrand said outside of the company’s head office.

Rotrand said that the STM projects a 35 per cent increase in ridership at the Vendome metro station alone by 2017.

The construction is slated to be finished in time for the scheduled opening of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) superhospital next spring.

The AMT is also supposed to award a $1.7 million contract in the coming weeks to build a tunnel beneath the commuter railroad tracks to link the Vendome metro station with the hospital.

But at least one Montreal city councillor isn’t impressed with the timeframe for the work.

Peter McQueen questions why the work hasn’t already been done. He fears it may not finish in time for the opening of the MUHC’s prized new health care facilities.

“That we’re doing this so late is ridiculous,” McQueen, the councillor representing NDG, said from the Vendome station.

While commuters welcome the pending changes to the station, some are concerned about meeting deadlines.

“You’re going to have to do it in stages because you have all these people using it, so you can’t do it all at once or else you’d have to shut the whole thing down,” Chris Buehrle said inside the Vendome station.

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“So I think trying to redirect traffic is going to be a big challenge for them.”

Construction is slated to begin next month.