Lambeth businesses, residents brace for big dig

Businesses in survival mode, knowing the work needs to be done.

An $8-million sewer and road project on the southwest edge of London will bring one neighbourhood its share of development and construction headaches.

It’s the first big dig in Lambeth in recent memory, and almost certainly the largest project since the city annexed the village in 1993.

The work – which will extend from Longwoods Road at Dingman Creek to Main and Campbell streets – has residents and business owners bracing for disruption. Construction is expected to extend throughout the 2018 season, with finishing touches to the road and landscaping done in 2019 - writes

“I’m a mixed bag,” said Steve Nakonecznyj, who owns Spicer’s Bakery on Main Street in Lambeth.

“I’m smart enough to understand that it needs to be done and in the long term it’ll be a good thing. But our mantra here is, ‘Make it through 2018.’ We’re saying, ‘Just survive.’”

The project will reduce Main Street from four lanes to three, including a shared centre turning lane that runs down the entire length of the street, what Nakonecznyj deemed “a great idea.”

Doug MacRae, the city’s manager of transportation planning and design, said Main Street has “excess capacity” today.

“The road was sort of overdesigned from day one. Four lanes was not necessary for the traffic, and with the Wonderland Road interchange at (Highway) 401, volumes have dropped slightly,” he said.

“Going to three lanes is just a nicer environment, and we’re able to reclaim some of the boulevard space for pedestrians.”

The reduction clears the way for expanded sidewalks and allows the city to add more trees, on-street parking, and other aesthetic additions such as lighting, planters, and “decorative walkways.”

'Make it through 2018.' We’re saying, ‘Just survive

Steve Nakonecznyj

The underground work – the biggest part of the project – will transition Lambeth from a septic system to sanitary sewers, and add a new storm sewer, paving the way for future development in the area.

“I know the community is looking forward with this massive infrastructure (project) that will be taking place,” Coun. Anna Hopkins, whose ward includes Lambeth, said at a Wednesday civic works meeting. She stressed the importance of communication.

“Notifying the community sooner than later is usually the best way to go forward,” she said, asking staff about plans to share a construction timeline with the public.

MacRae said city staff will “broadcast” the information to the community using social media, mailed letters, and signage in the construction area two weeks before the dig begins.

The first stage of the work, when sewers on the south side of Longwoods Road and Main Street will be replaced, will detour eastbound traffic. When work shifts to the north side of the roads – likely sometime in late summer or early fall, MacRae said – there will be enough room to have two lanes of traffic through the construction.

Council will be asked to award the $8.2 million contract to L82 Construction, the lowest of six bidders, at next week’s meeting.

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