Business owners on Ottawa's Main Street are relieved a section of the road has reopened to car, bicycle and pedestrian traffic after more than a year of construction and traffic chaos.

Main Street was shut down in stages, including the stretch from Clegg Street to Lees Avenue, while the major redesign took place. 

Café Qui Pense, at the corner of Main and Hazel streets, was right in the middle of the construction. Owner Gabriel Houle said he had fewer customers last summer as crews dug up the sidewalk in front of his coffee shop.

"At some point there was a big hole right here, 30 feet deep, and so you had to walk on pieces of wood to get in the coffee shop," he said.​ "So that, obviously, is not helpful."

Gabriel Houle owns the Café Qui Pense on Main Street

Gabriel Houle owns Café Qui Pense on Main Street. He said more established businesses helped newer ones like his stay afloat by attracting customers to the area during construction. (CBC)

Houle said the redesigned street is bringing more potential customers by his café and it was worth last summer's strain.

"We're really happy about the current situation. If you look at the sidewalks, they're almost double the size they used to be. There's a great cycling path."

The Green Door owner Ron Farmer says his vegetarian restaurant is a destination for customers, who managed to navigate the dusty road and changing traffic restrictions.

"Now that it's over, you can look at it like the city has spent millions of dollars improving the area right in front of our business," Farmer said. "We had to put up with some difficulty, but it's over and it's going to great for years and years."

'A brave face'

Capital ward Coun. David Chernushenko said Main Street shops are a good example for other businesses caught in the construction crunch.

"The businesses had to keep up a brave face," he said. "The message had to be: we're open, it's dusty, it's noisy, but we're here, please come down."

There wasn't much fanfare when the section of the street reopened on Aug. 16 because work isn't quite finished, Chernushenko said. He recommends commuters stick to the alternate routes they've been using to avoid the road, at least for now.

Main Street is reduced to a single southbound lane between Clegg Street and the McIllraith Bridge. Chernushenko says construction is on schedule and he expects the road to reopen completely in late fall.