Work on the $36.3-million Elgin Street revitalization begins Monday, shutting down vehicle traffic on sections of the popular main street for a year.
Construction on the project, which will see the sidewalks widened and hydro lines buried beneath the road, will force cars off Elgin from Somerset Street to Catherine Street for the remainder of 2019. A southbound lane from Laurier Avenue to Somerset will remain open, though the northbound lane up to Nepean Street will be closed to vehicles. Detour signs, which direct cars to O’Connor and Metcalfe streets, are now in place.
Much to the relief of businesses along the promenade, Elgin Street will remain fully open to pedestrians during the construction period alongside a few changes to cycling routes. Parking will be free at the City Hall parking garage on evenings and weekends until the street reopens, though some business owners remain wary about the construction’s impact on their bottom line.
“It’s going to impact our business, I think, a lot,” Happy Goat Coffee co-owner Ahmet Oktar told OBJ last year. “I’m trying to be positive. I hope everything will go as (the city) said.”
Others are hoping to promote foot and cycle traffic in the interim through a campaign dubbed “I Dig Elgin.” According to The Gifted Type and Boogie + Birdie co-owner Christa Blaszczyk, the initiative is meant to be the “pep squad” for the popular thoroughfare.
“We’ve been hearing a lot of positive feedback from customers saying they’re still going to be coming in,” she told OBJ in November. “Everybody kind of supports each other.”
The major road closures are slated to end in early 2020, with partial reductions along the street expected to stretch into the fall for finishing touches. When finished, the rebuilt Elgin Street between Gloucester Street and Queen Elizabeth Driveway will be reduced from four lanes to two with 90 parking spots instead of the current 120.