Timeline for 17th Avenue makeover revamped after merchants consulted, City of Calgary says
Full road closures still needed block-by-block as $44M project proceeds over 3 to 4 years
The city says it has reworked its construction timeline for the $44-million overhaul of 17th Avenue S.W. to better suit the needs of the businesses and shops along the popular inner-city strip.
The project includes rebuilding sidewalks, improving lane designs, adding crosswalks, completely replacing the asphalt and upgrading the underground utilities — power, gas, telecommunications, water and sanitary.
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Several business owners have complained that plans to completely close sections of 17th Avenue to traffic while work is being done could slowly kill the vibrant stretch of restaurants, bars and shops.
Full road closures on each block is necessary, while road and utility work is happening," the city said in a release Wednesday. "The street will begin to reopen to traffic during sidewalk work."
David Low, executive director of the Victoria Park Business Improvement Area which includes a portion of 17th Avenue, says he appreciates that the city has made an effort to work with businesses and residents to mitigate the project's impact.
"Everyone is trying to work together in a new way of trying to do these projects. Typically, these projects have been done rather, sort of heavy handed — we have to go in and get the work done," he said.
"The Victoria Park BIA is working extremely hard with the city and businesses to try and find unique, special ways in which to keep people flowing through the area and to support businesses through the potential interruptions that are going to be happening here."
Work starts week of April 17
The three- to four-year overhaul is set to start the week of April 17, if the weather cooperates.
This year, construction will begin at Macleod Trail and move west to Fifth Street S.W., the city says.
"All this work is necessary so 17th Avenue can continue serving Calgary and businesses for decades to come, but the work still needs to happen," said project manager Logan Tolsma.
"It's not ideal, but we'll continue to work with businesses and communities in the area while we review how we approach construction after 2017."
The city says it will help businesses cope with the disruption in several ways, including a marketing plan that includes way-finding and promoting ways to access the avenue during construction.
Low says the massive restoration will transform the avenue into a world-class urban destination.
"Renovations are hard. But if you can get through that then, it will pay back five, 10 times fold, we believe," he said.