Region open to pressing pause on uptown Waterloo road work in 2018

The region's director of design and construction says they have heard the frustration from uptown Waterloo business owners and staff want to meet with members of the Business Improvement Area to come up with a new timeline for road construction.

'We've definitely heard the concerns and understand the frustration of the uptown businesses'

The region says it will meet with uptown Waterloo businesses next week to discuss the ongoing construction that business owners say has impacted them for three years. (Carmen Ponciano/CBC )

Taking a break from road construction in uptown Waterloo may be something the region can work with, but staff want to talk to businesses first.

On Monday night, a group of business owners and Waterloo Coun. Melissa Durrell said they wanted a moratorium on road work in uptown for 2018. The road work currently being done is to replace infrastructure and improve the streetscape. It is not related to the LRT.

"We've definitely heard the concerns and understand the frustration of the uptown businesses," Phil Bauer, the region's director of design and construction, told CBC News.

"We will be meeting with the BIA membership next week and we are looking at alternatives for scheduling the remaining work over the next couple of years."

'We are so vulnerable'

During the gathering Monday evening in uptown, Durrell said the group wanted the region to "let uptown breathe."

"This is it. We are so vulnerable after three years of construction," Durrell said.

The group asked for three things:

  1. A commitment from the region, with new resources and funding, so that all uptown customers can get to each and every business easily.
  2. A commitment to move this project ahead by working seven days a week.
  3. All construction projects in Uptown to be re-evaluated and a moratorium on all construction next year.
Durrell told the crowd construction in uptown this year jumped from 14 weeks to 24.5 weeks.
Coun. Melissa Durrell talks to business owners in uptown Waterloo Monday evening about road work that has impacted the city's core for three years. (Submitted photo)

Bauer said that wasn't quite accurate.

"It was always expected we were going to be in that area for the full season, and we still will be," he said, noting construction season runs April to October and perhaps November.

The region always planned to do work on King Street between the Ion tracks and Bridgeport, as well as on Erb Street from King to Albert.

Work on King Street between Bridgeport and Elgin was tentative. It will not go ahead this year, Bauer said.

"Depending on how things progressed and how the season went, we knew we would be making a decision around this time of year whether to proceed with that piece of work," he said, admitting there have been some unforeseen delays.

"It's taken us a little bit longer than we were planning to get the piece from the Ion tracks to Bridgeport completed, so we're not going to be starting the piece from Bridgeport to Elgin."

Current work to wrap in November

Bauer said the meeting next week with the Uptown Waterloo Business Improvement Area will help the region figure out the timeline for work. King Street is being redeveloped right up to University Avenue, and is scheduled to be completed by 2019, but some of the work may be put on hold.

"There is absolutely no question that things are taking longer than we had planned and that the businesses had hoped for," Bauer said.

He noted work this year will wrap up in November.

"We certainly recognize that that's exceedingly frustrating. So I certainly understand the frustration, I get that," Bauer said. "We wish we were out of there now, too, but we're just going to keep at it until we finish what we need to do."


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