No compensation for businesses during 14th Street construction, says city

Some small business owners on 14th Street in southwest Calgary say road construction is hurting their bottom lines, but the city says it does not pay out for money lost during a project.

Laundromat owner says construction is hurting his bottom line, and he plans to talk to a lawyer

Construction on 14th Street in Calgary's southwest has been underway for the last two months. The city says it should wrap up in early September, but upgrades to the 14th Street bridge are still to come. (Rachel Maclean/CBC)

Some small business owners on 14th Street in southwest Calgary say road construction is hurting their bottom lines.

Gerrit Rysdyk of Lux Laundromat says as a relatively new business, it's a hit he can't take.

Gerrit Rysdyk of Lux Laundromat says he wants to see compensation for a 50 per cent drop in business. (Rachel Maclean/CBC)

He says both access points into his parking lot are blocked, and he has seen a 50 per cent drop in business over the past few weeks of construction.
"It's getting a lot harder to get those bills paid and keep my creditors happy," said Rysdyk.

He wants compensation from the city and plans to talk to a lawyer. 

"The smaller businesses here along 14th Street, there is quite a number of us, that are located here that are very small operators, very low budget operations, and things like this — we just can't take the hit," said Rysdyk.

But the city says it doesn't compensate for business lost during construction. The law department confirmed to CBC News it has not made a payment to a business for construction issues alone in the past.

City changes construction plans

Mac Logan with transportation says they are changing how they normally do construction to make it less disruptive for businesses, but it does take longer and cost more.

Major construction on 14th Street has been causing traffic delays in the area for weeks. (Rachel Maclean/CBC)

"We are incurring extra public cost in order to improve the business access throughout the construction project," he said.

When the southbound lanes on 14th Street were undergoing upgrades in June, some business accesses were completely closed for weeks. 

Rysdyk is grateful the city is trying to help, and one access to his parking lot is expected to open right away, but he says the construction is spurring some of his clients to stay away completely.

Down the street at Heritage Posters and Music Inc. it's a different problem. Owner Jerry Keogh wants to see less dust from vehicles passing by.

"All the rocks and the gravel is getting spread all over and they could have a water truck come out and spray it down or a street sweeper to come and clean up the debris."

Keogh says he doesn't expect any compensation, even though he has noticed a drop in business.

'That's a dream'

"The city will never compensate for anything ... — that's a dream," he said.

Jerry Keogh of Heritage Posters and Music Inc. holds up a sign he has posted at his store apologizing for the dust in the area. It reads, "we are trying our best to keep on top of the dust." (Rachel Maclean/CBC)

His business was also affected in 2011 when the installation of a sewage pipe caused major traffic congestion and a headache for local business owners.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi there is always a need for rebuilding work, and this is only the start of downtown upgrades.

"Certainly as our inner city infrastructure ages we're going to see more of these and it's good that we are able to invest in improvement of these roads long term."

Construction on 14th Street is expected to wrap up in early September.

Calgary drivers can expect more detours and delays soon as the Mewata Bridge on 14th Street — one of the city's busiest bridges — undergoes major work.

City spokeswoman Carissa Vescio said earlier this month that — while still safe to drive — regular inspections revealed the bridge's joints need to be replaced.

The city says it will do its best to minimize traffic problems, and will release more details about scheduled detours closer to the time of the project.

Heritage Posters and Music Inc. owner Jerry Keogh would like to see the city maintain the area around the construction better, such as helping to clean up dirt and gravel left behind. (Rachel Maclean/CBC)


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