People in Montreal’s east end will have to wait a little longer to ride the metro’s blue line all the way home.
The city’s transit authority, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) announced Tuesday that the long-awaited blue line extension is once again delayed for another two years.
Officials say that while searching for the machinery and contractors they need, they found that the timeframe they had in mind wasn’t possible within budget.
“In those discussions, the bidders expressed some concern about the delay of execution,” said Éric Alan Caldwell, chair of the board of directors of the STM.
The call for tenders was issued Tuesday and officials say they have a $6.4-billion budget to complete it all.
The winning bidder will be responsible for the construction of a tunnel using a tunnel boring machine and for site preparation work for some of the future stations.
The delay is disappointing for merchants banking on the project.
“The longer they prolong the arrival of the blue line, the longer it will take for the revitalization of the area to happen,” said Paul Micheletti, founding member of the Jean-Talon Street East Merchants’ Association (SDC Jean-Talon Est).
Micheletti, who is also a business owner, says merchants need the city to put in place temporary measures to make the area attractive for shoppers, or risk more business closures.
“We’ve had this for years. This is discouraging,” Micheletti said.
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The project has been plagued with decades-long delays.
In March last year, things started moving along when officials announced they were already shopping for a tunnel boring machine.
“I assure you this is the right time,” said Chantal Rouleau, the province’s minister responsible for Montreal at the time.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said on Tuesday, a year and a half later, it was still the right time.
While Plante deplores the delays, she says the transit project is worth the wait.
“I believe in the blue line. It’s going to take more time but I’m behind it,” Plante said.
The winning bidder will be announced next year.
The blue line is now set to start running in 2030.