Businesses along the construction corridor of 56th Avenue in Langley City are anticipating the completion of the project so they can get back to normal.
The City, province and federal government are funding the $3.62 million project that’s being done in two phases. Phase one is the business section while phase two is a longer portion from 206th Street to the Langley Bypass.
Downtown business people are resigned to the noisy, dusty work, knowing at the end, it will mean better underground servicing and a refurbished street with new paving, new sidewalks, curbs, gutters and cycling space as well as LED street lights.
Tricia Latkin manages the Minuteman Press at 205th Street on 56th Avenue. Most of the work comes in via phone or internet but she said the foot traffic through the door, for services such as photocopying, has been impacted.
“That’s definitely decreased,” she said.
Latkin noted that about a month ago, construction workers came in to say the water would be shut off the next day. The City had not notified them in advance, she said.
“So we actually had to close that day,” she said.
The water was shut off another time but the City provided advance notification, she added.
She looks forward to the work being done and the new amenities being added.
Latkin has been with the company for more than 20 years and has seen plenty of changes along the street.
“It will be the third time they’ve replaced the trees,” she noted.
Project manager Doug Hyde said they have had feedback from people long the corridor and work to keep them updated. He said the City knows a big project like this is disruptive.
“Honestly, I’m delighted how understanding and patient the business community has been with us,” he said.
The first phase will be completed by the middle of August. The only setback has been finding unstable soil in a big section from Glover Road to Salt Lane requiring two weeks of work to remedy.
Hyde likened the soil to top soil, organic material unsuitable for underground base.
“It doesn’t have the capacity to put load [on it],” he explained.
Eventually the lighter organic soil would settle at a different rate than the surrounding ground which could damage underground utilities and cause problems with the roads breaking up.
“We have completed all the underground work,” he noted.
The new curbs and gutters are in place and sidewalks and roadways are in the works.
Hyde noted that to prevent the need for having to dig up the road anytime soon, the project includes installing ducting underground to accommodate fibre optic wires, anticipating the need for more technological capacity in the future.
Sukhi Khaira, owner of Coastal Coffee, said he’ll be glad when the construction is done but based on how it looks right now, it’s hard to believe it will all come together by mid-August.
“I think that’s a good thing they’re doing,” he said. “…This is a short-term pain for a long-term gain. I hope once it’s done, it will be beautiful.”
In the meantime, there’s extra cleaning to handle the dust tracked in and ensuring the food is covered. He said it helps that that most of the items are made when ordered.
His business, opened about four years ago, is about half foot traffic and half vehicle traffic. The construction has affected the bottom line.
“At least 25 per cent [down] for sure,” he said.
He’s been in the Langley business community since about 1996, having started on McBurney Lane, so he’s seen plenty of change in the downtown. Khaira said he’s grateful to the customers who make the extra effort to get to the coffee shop during the upheaval.
He also praised the Downtown Langley Business Association for the work it’s done on behalf of businesses in the construction zone to promote them during the roadwork with promotions and social media efforts.
“The business association has been supporting the businesses big time,” Khaira noted.
A second construction crew has been working on phase 2, mainly a residential section of 56th Avenue.
“We expect that work to be complete by October,” Hyde said.
The heatwave forecast for this week should not delay the project, he said. The contractor will be asked to have dust suppression gear on site, such as a water truck, Hyde added.