City hall plans to shut down one of the busiest stretches of roadway for nearly 10 days to fix an infrastructure issue, a length of time that concerns some city councillors.
Starting on Sunday, July 5, the municipality plans to close northbound and southbound lanes of Main Street North from Town and Country Drive — near Canadian Tire — to Thatcher Drive so it can repair a section of road that has been a problem since 2019. The southbound railway crossing on Main Street North started to deteriorate last year and became a hazard to motorists. City hall subsequently closed two of three driving lanes until repairs could occur.
The repairs — to be done in conjunction with CN Rail — could take 10 days to complete, weather permitting.
City hall will spend $120,000 on this project, while CN Rail plans to spend $60,000.
“I’m very excited to see this finally underway,” Coun. Crystal Froese said during the June 29 regular meeting. She wondered if there was a detour plan to direct traffic through the site.
Traffic will not be allowed to drive through at all since CN Rail needs the full roadway to install the concrete blocks, explained public works director Darrin Stephanson. City hall will direct traffic to use Ninth Avenue Northeast and Northwest during construction.
Driving over that stretch can cause anxiety among motorists sometimes since they don’t know what the road quality is like and whether it could damage their vehicle, said Mayor Fraser Tolmie.
“This area has been a problem area in the community for the longest time. Band-Aid solutions have not fixed this,” he added. “So for CN to take responsibility — which they should — and get this fixed and properly, is a good move forward.”
Coun. Chris Warren was concerned about the road being closed the entire 10 days and hoped it could be closed for only four days. While he understood there was much work to do, he wondered if city hall could phase in some of it and whether two-way traffic could occur.
The public works department has to pull out the damaged pavement more than a day before CN Rail starts its work, which will make the road unpassable, Stephanson said. There’s no way to have two-way traffic, although the department did discuss that with the rail company. This entire project is based on CN Rail’s schedule, so city hall must work around that.
There will be four electronic signs — three on Thatcher Drive and one on Main Street — that will direct traffic away from the area, he added. The department hopes to finish the project by Saturday, July 11.
Working around the clock
The intersection of Main Street and Thatcher Drive is one of the busiest in Moose Jaw, said Coun. Dawn Luhning. She was disappointed construction wouldn’t take place around the clock since this particular project warrants it. She also thought many businesses would be negatively affected by the potential 10-day closure of the intersection.
Luhning wanted assurances from city administration that a detailed and stringent communications plan would be in place to inform residents about the construction.
“… I think this needs to be a boosted social media campaign that that intersection is closed and residents have to go to wherever the routes are going to be. Signs and detours on roadways are not going to be enough,” she added.
The 10-day shutdown might be inconvenient, but it has been inconvenient driving over that damaged road, said Coun. Heather Eby. It didn’t upset her that residents would be frustrated for 10 days since this would be a long-term repair. Residents have been frustrated with work on the cast iron replacement program too, but that needs to be completed.
Council later voted to receive and file the report.
The public works department will work with CN Rail on this project, with the railway company to fix the issues adjacent to the rail line and the department to address the surrounding road infrastructure and drainage issues, Stephanson explained.
Since city hall has patched potholes there repeatedly, it will install concrete panels that can withstand the heavy volume of traffic. The department will also address damaged concrete on the centre median at the CN signal, while it will pave the northbound lanes from Town and Country Drive to 16 metres north of the crossing.
To ensure the crossing doesn’t require repeated maintenance, the department will address deficiencies with drainage issues at the northeast corner of Main Street North and Town and Country Drive, such as improving storm retention and run-off and repairing catch basins.
The next regular city council meeting is Monday, July 13.