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By Karen Herland
By this time next year Quartier Concordia will have an underground city of its own.
You'll be able to travel from Bishop St. to the Guy Metro or Le Gym to H-110 without ever hitting the pavement.
Tony Vanvari, of Facilities Management, is in charge of a major and long awaited piece of this puzzle when construction begins this month on a tunnel connecting the Guy Metro to the tunnel that links the LB and Hall buildings.
"This project has been talked about since before I got here in 2003," said Vanvari of the passage that will open up just north of the Uniprix at the Metro level and continue more or less under the De Maisonneuve bike path until linking up with the existing tunnel near the Sir George bookstore.
Vanvari is enthusiastic about the advantages of the project. Currently student, faculty and staff pedestrian traffic often spills off of the sidewalk onto the street or the bike path, creating safety hazards. The tunnel will be equipped with cameras and efficient lighting, offering a secure alternative in all weather.
Though Vanvari points out the project will be extremely useful in the winter months for faculty, students and when deliveries are often necessary through slush, sleet and over ice.
"We've all seen the Chartwells staff struggle in the winter with carts. Now they won't have to worry." The same is true for distribution and mail services staff, who will be able to remain indoors for most of the routes.
The GM building already connects to the EV Building. By next October, when the project will be complete, the JMSB building on the west side of Guy will also be finished, and a tunnel will link it to the EV building, opposite the location of the Le Gym.
This major tunnel will be 396 feet long and lined with ceramic tiles, with display panels for added visual interest. The project is possible due to the financial support of the provincial government. Vanvari has coordinated with the city, STM services and those responsible for underground electrical systems to ensure that service will not be interrupted.
The connections will be a boon to underground retailers, many of whom are tenants of the university.
Meanwhile, above ground disruptions will also be kept to a minimum. Both vehicular and pedestrian traffic will continue to flow, though there will be occasional detours. The project is coordinated with other construction in the area. The initial work will not impede the current work of relocating the sewer system under De Maisonneuve boulevard and future improvements to the south of Place Norman-Bethune are slated for after the tunnel project is complete.