Thursday, June 30, 2011

Because You Have No Credibility

The title is the answer to the following question: Why would Montrealers, including the local newspaper, really need to see the inspection reports for the Mercier bridge?  Sam Hamad, the head of the relevant agency, basically told the newspaper to screw off.  Just because everything that we have been told for the past few years seems to have been a pack o' lies and/or omissions, why should we have any need to see the reports?

Oh, because we would only understand half?  Perhaps the newspaper might have some experts that they could interview.  Oops.

The good news is not all of the bridges connecting Montreal to the surrounding areas are on the verge of collapse.  Just two of the four major connections to the South Shore--the big suburbs on that side of the river but also the shortest route to the US.  The Champlain bridge apparently has more traffic on it than any other bridge in Canada or close to it, and it was designed so badly it only has a fifty year life span. And getting a new one built requires heaps of federal-provincial wrangling.  The Mercier Bridge is half-closed with a crater in the open half.  Double oops.  And repairing that is complicated since it lands on the south shore on the lands of the Kahnawake, who understand only too well how much leverage this gives this First Nations tribe. 

The bridge folks, like the folks running the city of Montreal (who have managed to take the new innovative bike rental business, Bixi, and turn into a money-losing, law-violating, heart-breaking venture), have simply no credibility.  So, when they deny access to reports, people suspect that they might be hiding something.  And they can deny the Canadian equivalent of Freedom of Information requests, Access to Information, by saying that the material contains opinions or recommendations, that the recommendations have not been acted upon, or that it would affect bidding.  So, damn, the Access of Information Act is actually a wonderful shield for the bridge people and any other government officials that are running their cities or province into the ground (or the water, as the case may be). 

I am now pondering how my family will get to New York for our summer vacation--will we dare to try to cross one of these broken bridges or will we go West to go East and add an hour or so to the trip?  I have already changed my Ultimate habits--I no longer play regularly in the summer leagues as they require a commitment to travel anywhere in the Greater Montreal area during rush hour to get to a game.  Instead, I will sub for a team that thinks it needs me if the game is on the western half of the Island of Montreal--I will not cross bridges or drive through the Turcot interchange (which is also falling apart--hence the nets under the overpasses--see the pic) even though I love to play ultimate.

But I guess we should trust the bridge folks, right?

1 comment:

Theo McLauchlin said...

"I hate to tell you this, but there are aqueducts in Rome that are in better shape." -Lewis Black at the comedy fest last year...