Work has resumed on the two-block restoration of Lougheed Highway between 224th and 226th streets, the final stretch of the city’s multi-year downtown enhancement plan, following a two-week Christmas break.
With sidewalks on the north side completed, work is now focused on the south side as curbs are being set and preparations made for pouring concrete for the new sidewalks.
New storm sewers, street lights, street furniture and street trees are all part of the final phase, which, when complete, will resemble work that’s already been completed along Lougheed and along 224th Street.
Work on the most recent phase started in August and inconvenienced businesses that felt a drop in customer traffic as sidewalks were torn up as heavy equipment moved in.
That month, Bella Vita Restaurant noted a drop in customers shortly after construction started. The city, in response, installed a temporary sidewalk until the new one was poured.
Aaron Nikaniuk, at Bill’s Skate Shop nearby, says the project is taking a long time, although the city has provided regular updates.
And thanks to that communication, he was able to keep his customers informed about his skate-sharpening schedule. He can’t sharpen the blades when heavy equipment or compactors are rumbling outside his door.
The store will also lose one of the parking spots outside his business because of a curb flare that will provide a rounded corner.
Overall, however, the project is expected to produce a few more parking stalls.
Still, it’s worth the inconvenience of the construction, Nikaniuk said.
“It’s better, for sure.”
He said sales are down a bit, although it’s hard to attribute that to the construction.
“The town will look a little better … so we need that for sure,” Nikaniuk said.
Coun. Gordy Robson said the project is taking too long and suggested that the city consider options for more compressed construction schedules on future projects.
The objectives of the Downtown Enhancement Projects include increasing the livability of the town centre, supporting business growth and encouraging future investment, while enhancing the street experience for pedestrians and shoppers and the safety of road users, the city said on its website. No completion date is given for the project.