By Lethbridge Herald on July 29, 2020.
While there will be some localized traffic and pedestrian disruptions due to the infrastructure upgrades taking place along 3 Avenue South this summer, the City is committed to ensuring those disruptions will be kept to a minimum for downtown business owners and shoppers.
“It’s going to be done in steps so not all of 3 Avenue is going to be detoured off,” explained Coun. Mark Campbell at a press conference on the construction work held Wednesday morning.
“Short term there is going to be some inconvenience, but they are staggering where the construction is taking place to make it as less awkward for everyone as it can be. In the long run it is going to work out really well.”
The City will also be working with local businesses to ensure both pedestrian access and parking are still available at all times despite the ongoing construction work. It will also ensure good signage is in place to direct people where to walk and where to drive to access affected businesses.
“We have had a lot of discussions with businesses over the last few months,” said Ted Stilson, executive director of the Downtown BRZ. “For the time being, everyone is fine with that. I think we are going to be promoting our businesses in this area even more than we usually do with our downtown businesses. We will do everything we can to mitigate as many of the issues they have with the walkways and the construction during that period in time.”
Calling it in all probability the most significant City-funded downtown infrastructure investment in 40 years, Stilson said business owners will see the longer-term benefit of replacing the 100 year-old underground infrastructure as well as the other beautification measures which will come with the street upgrades.
“We are really excited about that investment in the downtown core, and it really ties in very nicely with the new branding campaign, the parklets and the outdoor seating we put in place for restaurants in the downtown core,” he said. “I don’t think (business owners) are frustrated about this project. I think it is one of the good things we can shine a light on. Yes, we have been impacted by the community drug crisis, and then COVID, but this is a positive. This is something that aids in all that negative chatter in the community about the downtown. This is a positive, for sure.”
Explaining this point further, City of Lethbridge project manager Crystal Scheit said the $10 million in council-approved upgrades will create a whole new look for 3 Avenue South when completed.
“The whole look of 3 Avenue South in the downtown is going to change pretty drastically from what we see out there now,” Scheit confirmed. “I think everybody is looking forward to seeing a vibrant downtown, and we’re really trying to encourage people to come back into the downtown to support the local businesses.”
According to Scheit these “streetscaping” improvements will include new benches, more trees, raised parking, wider sidewalks, and single-lane traffic each way with dedicated turning lanes to make the downtown shopping experience more pleasant for all concerned.
Because the project will be staggered, with only one small section of 3 Avenue being upgraded at a time as the summer progresses, the project will likely take until at least fall 2021 to fully complete.
As these upgrades take place, work crews will also be removing the last remnants of the old streetcar rail line which runs beneath the asphalt along 3 Avenue to this day. A portion of that line will be preserved after removal and donated to the Galt Museum.
For more information on this project visit getinvolvedlethbridge.ca/third-avenue or stop by the project office at 616 3 Ave. S.
Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter