The deadline for construction work along St. Margarets Bay Road in Halifax has been pushed back yet again — with completion now expected in late November.
The Halifax Regional Municipality said a number of factors have contributed to the delay, including the presence of bedrock under the road, the unanticipated removal of old and unmarked water and sewer infrastructure, and additional sewer and water installations.
The project was initially supposed to wrap on Oct. 9, although the city had announced a two-week extension last month.
Business owners along the road say they're losing patience with the work, which has been underway since mid-July.
'We're living in chaos'
Nick Giannopoulos, owner of Euro Pizza, closed his take-out restaurant for two months during the summer. Closing up shop was the only way to not lose money during construction, he said.
Giannopoulos scheduled his reopening for Oct. 9 — the project's original completion date — but shortly after he resumed operations, crews started digging right outside his front door.
"We're living in chaos. Nobody cares anymore," he said.
No through-traffic is permitted along St. Margarets Bay Road between Douglas Drive and Quarry Road, though the city said customers will still have access to businesses during the extended construction. All commuter traffic heading to the peninsula, meanwhile, is forced to detour through Herring Cove.
"We're operating with $5, $10, $15, $20 items," Giannopolous said. "We need traffic to survive."
Across the street from Euro Pizza is Blake Sampson's Napa Autopro shop. At this point, he said he'd like to see the city compensate the businesses along the road.
"But will they give us anything? That's another story," Sampson said. "I realize it's gotta be done — I think they could do it a little bit quicker."
No fines expected
Despite the detours and frequent road closures, it's the traffic that is partly to blame for slowing down the project, said Heath Baker, who's leading the project for Cumberland Paving and Contracting Ltd.
"Even though it's restricted traffic, it's the busiest road I've ever seen," he said.
While the construction contract includes a clause that allows the municipality to penalize the contractor for any delays — up to $5,000 in fines and road-closure fees — right now, that appears unlikely to happen.
"None of the delays have been deemed, at this point, the responsibility of the contractor," said city spokesperson Nick Ritcey. "That's all going to be assessed when the project is completed."
Crews have been working seven days a week since mid-October, Ritcey said, and will continue on that schedule until the job is done.