Some Saint John businesses say they are being hurt financially because of the installation of new water main and sewer pipes that are all a part of the ongoing Prince William Street reconstruction project.

The construction, along with a slow tourist season, means fewer people are walking into stores along the street.

Lindsey Manzer, a server at the Magnolia Café, said she’s noticed the drop in visitors in recent weeks.

“It took a little while to kind of notice it but now that it's summer out, I find less foot traffic on this particular street corner going down Princess and across Prince William [streets],” she said.

In the next building, Theresa Jennings, the owner of Scheherazade Books and Music, said she has also noticed a decline in traffic this summer.

Jennings said the city needs to better communicate with the public when these construction projects are in the planning stages.

"I think they need to communicate with the public of what's going on with the construction, where people can move around, like what's the driving to avoid the construction? Where can you park to avoid the construction?” she said.

“And to really just let the public know that we're still all open for business and are happy to see you."

TerraEx is the main contractor on the Prince William Street reconstruction project. Along with the new water main and storm sewers, the project will put overhead power lines underground, rebuild the street and add decorative street lighting.

No one from the City of Saint John was available to comment on the concerns raised by the businesses in the construction zone.

However, the city released an advisory on Wednesday reminding citizens of the construction.

“The section from Duke to Princess streets is closed to vehicle traffic but remains open to pedestrians. All businesses remain open,” the statement said.

A city official also said steps are being taken to help businesses in the area during this period, such as:

  • meeting with local business and property owners to discuss any concerns
  • keeping at least one sidewalk open at all times
  • scheduling service disruptions to minimize impacts on business in non-emergency situations
  • working with affected businesses to guarantee access for deliveries and pickups is available

Even though the construction is an inconvenience now, Jennings said she hopes the final results will draw more people to the area.

"I'm hoping that the attractiveness of the street is going to draw [more visitors],” she said.

The construction project is expected to finish in October.