Town of Smiths Falls officials assured council members at a March 5 meeting that a detailed plan will be developed to help businesses cope with the redevelopment of the town’s main street.
Now that councillors have chosen their preferred design for the redevelopment, construction on Beckwith Street is set to begin in the spring of 2019.
Director of Public Works and Utilities Troy Dunlop stated that the construction, which is being driven by the need to replace century-old water mains and sewer pipes, will be done in two phase. The first phase will see the replacement of the underground infrastructure and installation of curbs. New asphalt would be put in place in the second, shorter, phase.
Councillors John Maloney and Lorraine Allen expressed concern that businesses would be impacted by prolonged disruption on the street. Dunlop responded that staff would discuss their plans with the Downtown Business Association and draw on the experience of other communities for ideas on how to minimize disruption.
“We will certainly research and share some of the best practices,” said Dunlop.
Although six blocks of Beckwith Street are to be redeveloped, Chief Administrative Officer Malcolm Morris warned that such a large section could not be rebuilt all at once. The first phase of the work will involve only the section between Chambers and Russell Streets.
“Two years of detours is going to be hard on a lot of those businesses,” said Maloney.
Dunlop said that rather than detouring cars around the downtown, the flow of traffic along at least part of Beckwith would be maintained at all times – although parking would not be allowed on any of the blocks during actual construction.
“We will develop a parking plan for the construction phase,” Morris assured council.
Dunlop secured council’s blessing to begin discussions with engineering firm Parsons, who developed the detailed plans for the project, to continue acting as consultants for the construction process.
“They came highly recommended,” Councillor Chris Cummings said of Parsons. “They’ve shown tremendous professionalism.”