December 06, 2014 - 10:33 AM
NECESSARY REPAIRS COULD CLOSE MORE BUSINESSES
KAMLOOPS - Concerns about traffic flow, loss of business and costs were all aired at an open house discussing the Overlanders Bridge construction project Thursday night but most everyone at the meeting agreed it is a project that needs to be done.
Steven Puhallo of the North Shore Business Improvement Association says the last few years have been hard on businesses in the Tranquille corridor. He says while some businesses have thrived, others are worried they will not be able to sustain another summer of closures.
Two businesses left the area during the upgrades to the corridor in 2013, blaming a loss of business during construction. Several others say they lost upwards of $100,000 and would have had to close if not for being a second or third generation family business with little debt. This year two other businesses have already told Puhallo they will be leaving because they cannot handle another road closure.
In 2012, the overpass at the north end of the bridge was damaged and drivers were unable to use the overpass to access the corridor. The next year upgrades were made to Tranquille Road from Leigh Road to Sydney Avenue.
Puhallo says communication with the city of Kamloops wasn't very good during that work, with businesses given several reopening dates.
“It was like Lucy and Charlie Brown with the football,” he says.
Public Works Director Jen Fretz says they have promised to communicate more openly this time around.
“There’s no question there will be impacts… We promise to get it done as quickly and with as little disruption as possible,” she notes. “We can guarantee one lane in each direction will be open.”
The plan is to send the project to tender early in the new year and with construction to begin on the west sidewalk in March or April. Construction is scheduled to start on the bridge deck in May start. Fretz says those timelines are not firm yet, as planning continues with the contractor. There is also a possibility the sidewalk work will be done at night.
The bridge deck was resurfaced 25 years ago and while the original plan was to complete the work this year, failures in the sidewalk forced staff to request a delay. The $9.3 million project will now include the replacement of the west sidewalk, the resurfacing of the bridge deck, removal of two-thirds of the expansion joints and new lighting.
The city has an annual budget of $325,000 for bridge inspections and maintenance. The city had a budget of about $20,000 to go towards the maintenance of just the Overlanders Bridge this year, but Fretz says many of the patches have nothing to hold on to and have been failing.
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