Work progressing at Viau and Maisonneuve

“Here it is,” says Claude Beaubien. The Port of Montreal’s chief engineer is proud to present the Viau project in the port sector located – naturally – at the foot of Viau St. However, it looks nothing more than a big, empty lot on this rainy October day.

Space is at a premium in the Port of Montreal, and that’s what makes the Viau project so very important. The port manages a narrow strip of land between the river and the city. Ingenuity is key when it comes making the very most of this limited space. It is a constant and demanding challenge for all those who work at and manage port facilities. The Viau-Maisonneuve project is the most recent to silence the skeptics when it comes to port expansion.

The land in the Viau and Maisonneuve sectors is being completely redeveloped to make space for container storage. Container transport by far is the fastest growing mode of transportation. The federal government recognizes the importance of the port to the economy and has contributed some $15 million toward the project.

At the Viau sector, which covers 18.8 hectares, two huge sheds have been demolished. Two remain, but one of them will be downsized to make way for railway tracks that allow trains to load and unload grain at Elevator No. 4, situated right next door. When the project is complete, the site will have an annual capacity of 150,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent unit containers).

With a concentration of containers, trucks and trains on the site, a denser utilization of the land will be required. How will it be done? “You’ve flattened sand with a shovel to make it more compact,” says Beaubien smiling.

“We’re doing the exact same thing.” A crane is dumping tonnes of earth on the site. Craters are being filled in, and then the land will be compacted.

Ce hangar sera rétréci pour laisser passer les rails de chemin de fer

And that’s not all. The port has to move the railway tracks and redo the sewers, water supply system, lighting and the entire underground electrical network. “To optimize container handling, we have to eliminate as many poles and wires as possible,” Beaubien says.

The first phase of land compacting is taking place this autumn. It will be finished next spring, followed by the redevelopment itself. Everything should be operational by December 31, 2013.

La future salle des débardeurs et la passerelle qui mène au stationnement

At the Maisonneuve sector project, which is smaller, the port is also developing new space for containers, as well as a new longshoremen’s hall and parking lot. A walkway that links the two already is complete. The port is also building a new garage for equipment maintenance and longshoremen’s vehicles.

In the end, by consolidating these buildings, Maisonneuve Terminal, operated by Termont, will be able to handle an extra 50,000 TEUs. And what happens when more space is required? The Port of Montreal will develop land that it owns at Contrecoeur. But that’s another story …