Edmonton

Business owners frustrated by year-long lane closures on 105th Street

Business owners affected by roadwork on 105th Street in downtown Edmonton say they are frustrated with the delays to Epcor’s drainage-system upgrade project.

Epcor encountered issues while drilling tunnel to improve drainage downtown

The southbound lanes on 105th Street, south of Jasper Avenue, have been closed for over a year. (Josee St-Onge/CBC)

Business owners affected by roadwork on 105th Street in downtown Edmonton say they are frustrated with the delays in the drainage-system upgrade project. 

"It's been frustrating for us because I don't feel that anyone really seems to care about the impact it's having," said dentist Karyn Isbister, who co-owns Academy Dental on 105th Street. 

The main entrance to her dental clinic is blocked off by the lane closures, and accessible parking stalls have been removed, she said. 

"It's made it a lot more difficult for our patients to get to us."

The project was to be completed in April 2018, but Epcor encountered several setbacks while drilling under Jasper Avenue. 

Southbound lanes on 105th Street south of Jasper Avenue have been closed for over a year while northbound traffic is down to one lane as drivers approach Jasper Avenue, taking away parking along the street.

Ben Eastwood, Isbister's business partner, said the City of Edmonton should consider compensating businesses that are losing money because of construction delays.

"They certainly don't lower our taxes because we're put out," said Eastwood. "There's nothing that anybody does for the inconvenience."

The project began just a few months after Jesse Northcott opened his vape shop.

"It's been there for so long, it's just part of how we operate," he said. "Just having that big construction out front, less driving, less parking, it's not a good thing."

Parking spots were removed along 105th Street to make way for traffic flow. (Josee St-Onge/CBC)

The delays were caused by a series of equipment issues while drilling, said Epcor's spokesperson Kelly Struski in a statement.

The boring machine struck thick clay in March 2018 and crews had to modify their approach.

Then, the machine was damaged when it hit metal in August 2018 and had to be repaired.

"The proximity of the repair location to the LRT presented additional risk which required engineering considerations to ensure the safety and protection of the underground infrastructures," Struski said. 

The machine hit metal a second time last month and was again damaged.

Crews have switched to hand tunneling to get the machine out and complete the last 15 metres of the tunnel. 

An Epcor spokesperson project is expected to be fully completed by the end of September. 

Isbister and Eastwood hope this new timeline will be the final one. 

"I've got my fingers crossed that that's going to happen and just make things a little easier," Isbister said.

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