Downtown business owners are bracing for a long, loud October as a number of roadwork projects threaten to snarl traffic and drive away customers.
The resurfacing of Victoria Street from First to Fifth avenues is expected to cause the most exasperation, as entire blocks will be closed for days at a time.
Add in paving on Summit Drive and repairs to the Peterson Creek culvert at Sixth Avenue and Columbia Street and navigating the downtown will require patience.
Work is expected to begin on Victoria Street on Monday with block closures to occur on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays until the paving is complete.
Gay Pooler, general manager of the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association, said those are days with the least amount of traffic and should ease congestion.
Sidewalks and crosswalks will be torn up and paving bricks replaced. But Pooler assured businesses that people will be able to walk and shop in the downtown.
“The sidewalks will be open for pedestrians. Pedestrians can get to the stores,” she said.
That provided little consolation to store and restaurant owners. Arlana Wilson, co-owner of the fashion outlet Essentials and Beyond on Victoria, said there’s no way businesses won’t be impacted.
“People are certainly not going to want to come downtown and find a place to park with the road ripped up,” said Wilson.
And why Victoria Street? There are other streets in worse shape, she said.
Jim McNeely, City streets and environmental services manager, said Victoria Street hasn’t been paved since the 1980s and its time has come.
He acknowledged the work will be disruptive but, once its complete at the end of October, it will be good for at least another 15 years, said McNeely.
Wilson doesn’t believe the disruption is worth it.
“It’s going to not be good for downtown businesses,” she said.
In an effort to diminish the impact, Pooler asked the City to avoid the peak summer and Christmas shopping seasons, she said.
Hot House Bistro manager Karen Bird didn’t learn about the project until The Daily News stopped by the restaurant on Thursday afternoon.
She said Hot House relies on foot and vehicle traffic, especially on Sundays when other stores are closed.
“It will certainly make a difference for us,” she said, anticipating a decline in patrons.
And Bird worries dust will get into her establishment and possibly the food, she said.
City capital projects manager Kirsten Meersman said contractor BA Dawson Blacktop will make every effort to spray the dirt and cracked asphalt to prevent dust.
The $1.5-million project will see a block or two tackled at a time. Meersman said the paving must be done quickly in order to beat the onset of cold and potentially wet fall weather.
As for Columbia Street and Sixth Avenue, traffic was down to two lanes Thursday while crews repaired a concrete box culvert beneath Columbia that channels Peterson Creek. McNeely said the work must be done promptly before the box fails and the street sinks.
Work began earlier this week and is expected to be done at the end of October. City engineer Deven Matkowski said the traffic delays people experience this week won’t be the norm. There will be periods when all four lanes of Columbia Street are open.
Vehicles backed up for blocks Thursday morning and again during rush hour. Traffic controller Cheryl Branton said motorists were largely patient.
Meanwhile, vehicles will be allowed to drive Grandview Terrace some time next week after a month’s delay. Meersman said the closure was extended because a water pipe had to be replaced.
The infrastructure project is on schedule to be completed by the middle of October, she said.