It's a terrifying prospect: tonnes of concrete suddenly giving way and falling onto a busy commuter corridor.
That disaster movie scenario is exactly what is going through the minds of Montreal residents this week after a 25-tonne slab simply fell off the roof of the Ville Marie expressway Sunday. It's a miracle it happened when the road was empty. Montrealers can't write it off as a freak accident either; only five years ago, five people died in their cars when a suburban overpass collapsed on them. Quebec, it seems, is crumbling.
The problem actually reaches across the country. Much of the infrastructure that was put up in the mid-20th-century building boom, from bridges to recreation centres, is reaching - or has already passed - the end of its intended lifespan.
Fixing it all is going to be financially tough and politically painful. Replacing something that appears to be working fine is a hard sell both to elected officials and taxpayers. Engineers warned the Ville Marie concrete was in "critical" condition as far back as 2008, yet nothing was done to safeguard the millions of people who have passed underneath that roof over the years that followed.
Few municipalities have squirreled away enough money to keep pace with the deterioration of key assets, and most will look to their provinces and to Ottawa to chip in. North Shore residents are already waiting for their federal taxes to return home in the form of a new sewage treatment plant. Let's hope they do before we follow Quebec's lead.