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Roadwork around ConU still causing problems

Photo by Madelayne Hajek

The renovations outside of Concordia University set to finish this Friday may be delayed for an undetermined amount of time.

The construction started this summer, with the city of Montreal revamping and repaving De Maisonneuve Blvd. from Bishop St. to St-Mathieu St. to include a bike path, green space and an extended sidewalk. While the portion between Guy St. and St-Mathieu St. reopened this month, the rest of the construction is supposed to finish by the end of September.

According to university spokesperson, Chris Mota, the Public Works project slated to finish this Friday, Sept. 28 may be behind schedule.

“The roadwork is the city’s construction and it’s on their schedule,” said Mota. “Based on their work, ours can only follow.”

“I do believe it’s a little past schedule,” added Mota. “With construction, until it’s done we don’t know.”
Since the roadwork is entirely governed by the city of Montreal, the university aims to update their website regularly to inform students about the progress of the renovations.

The construction and blocked off De Maisonneuve Blvd. have caused headaches for students traveling between the downtown and Loyola campuses. The roadwork forced Concordia to change the location of the shuttle bus stop from in front of the Henry F. Hall Building to the corner of Ste-Catherine St. and Mackay St., before it moved to Bishop St. and De Maisonneuve Blvd., until completion.

According to undergraduate student Amrit Kaur, the additional traffic due to the construction made her late for class.

“It took me 35 minutes from downtown to Loyola,” said Kaur. “Usually when I take the shuttle it’s between 15 and 20 minutes.”

Kaur insists that the shuttle is still the quickest commute from one campus to the other and that she tries to leave earlier to ensure she’s not late for her courses.

Brittany Williams experienced the same delay when she travelled from Loyola to downtown recently.

“It’s always a little frustrating to drive an extra five to 10 minutes just so the shuttle bus can let us off near our actual stop,” explained Williams.

Bus driver Fernand Groulx said there’s no remedy to the situation until the construction is over.

“You can’t do anything,” said Groulx. “There’s now construction between St-Jacques St. and Upper Lachine too, it happens.”

Groulx emphasized that construction is merely part of his job and the commute between the two campuses – while he may be delayed – didn’t make his day any harder.

Williams suggested that Concordia provide extra shuttle busses to offset the traffic that snarls up the downtown core due to the construction.

“Considering the construction is the city’s fault, the university could perhaps revisit the shuttle schedule,” said Williams. “They can see if they can make some changes or additions so there will be less delays or inconveniences.”

Public Works of the city of Montreal could not be reached for comment by press time.

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ConU under construction

Photo by Marilla Steuter-Martin.

A sea of yellow caution tape and electrical wiring is what Concordia University students will see on their first official day of classes on Wednesday, Sept. 5.

The Henry F. Hall building is undergoing renovations inside and massive construction outside. All through the summer months, ongoing roadwork on De Maisonneuve Blvd. has blocked the main entrance to the building.

According to University spokesperson Chris Mota, the main entrance is expected to reopen on Thursday, Sept. 6 but this will only be accessible through a fenced-off section from Mackay St.

The city of Montreal is revamping De Maisonneuve Blvd. between Bishop St. and St-Mathieu St. by repaving the road, installing a bike path, adding green space and extending the sidewalk.

Allison Savage, a first-year undergraduate student at Concordia, decided to tour the downtown campus early so she could find her way around come the first day of school. When she arrived on campus, Savage said she was unsure of where to go because of the renovations inside and outside of the Hall building.

“I was 10 times more confused because of the construction,” she explained. “I found it very inconvenient.”
Savage went on to say that the first week of the semester might be difficult for first years taking classes in the Hall building specifically due to repairs.

“If new students are unfamiliar with how to get around in the first place, they will be confused because of construction,” said Savage.

On the other hand, the university administration insists it has a plan to ensure that the first week goes smoothly despite the construction. The university expects the repaving between Guy St. and St-Mathieu St. to be done in time for the first day of classes, while the portion between Bishop St. and Mackay St. is expected to be completed in late September.

The university is co-ordinating with the police to help direct traffic and pedestrians from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Dean of Students office plans to have a group of students in yellow shirts acting as greeters outside the Hall building and the J.W. McConnell Library building to guide new and returning students to their classes.

The university shuttle bus that runs between the two campuses will stop at the corner of Mackay and Ste-Catherine until construction is completed.

Photo by Marilla Steuter-Martin

Regarding the inside of the Hall building, renovations on the escalators which began last semester are still ongoing.

Although the escalators from the mezzanine to fifth floor are functional, new escalators need to be installed from the fifth to seventh floors. The new escalators are slated for completion sometime in December. Escalators between the seventh and 12th floors are also operational.

The dysfunctional escalators are a continual source of disruption and frustration for many students, including Caelie Smith, an urban planning student who has courses in the upper floors of the Hall building.

“I usually have classes on the renovated floors,” said Smith. “But the rest of the building is a disaster.”
Since 1998, the Hall building has undergone several changes to modernize the deteriorating structure. According to Martine Lehoux, the university’s director of facilities planning and development, floors can only be refurbished when they are not in use.

In 2003, science departments were moved to the Richard J. Renaud Science Pavillion on the Loyola campus and the eighth, 11th and 12th floors were redone. In 2005, the western section of the seventh floor was renovated following the move of the department of applied human sciences to Loyola.

The university has plans to renovate the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh floors of the Hall building from 2014 to 2015 depending upon funding approval.

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