Town defends traffic-clogging work at main intersection

July 16, 2014   ·   0 Comments

By Tabitha Wells – The construction work this week at Broadway and First Street has caused a disturbance among some town residents who feel that the work is unnecessary and hindering too many businesses from operating properly in the downtown core. On Tuesday, questions began to appear on Facebook as to why the work needed to be done and why more notice was not provided.

“The businesses have been consulted prior to this work being done,” wrote Councillor Jeremy Williams on one of the threads on Facebook. “It’s important that we maintain Orangeville’s roads, but just as important is keeping our downtown open for business. We were faced with a dilemma, close all of Broadway down and complete the required work at one time, or do it in phases to minimize the impact to local stores.”

The work that has closed Broadway between First Street and Second Street is being done to re-level the bricks at the First Street interaction in order to help prevent possible safety issues that could develop from shifting that has occurred in recent years.

While several residents commented on the thread that it appeared there was no need to work on the bricks at this time, Councillor Williams reminded them that appearances can be deceiving and advised that the state of the bricks was actually worse than they seemed.

“The pavers look okay from a distance, but under closer examination they are near the end of their life,” said Councillor Williams. “Some stones are worn down to the point of making them structurally weakened. To wait until they begin disintegrating would be irresponsible. Broadway is our main street and takes quite a punishment from traffic. We must keep on top of these things before they get ahead of us.”

He added that they could have waited until they started breaking, but then the bricks would all go very quickly.

While driving on Broadway is restricted all week, most businesses are still accessible for pedestrians, who had access to most of the downtown parking lots.

“We chose to complete the work in phases so that only a small section at a time is closed down,” he said. “Pedestrian traffic is relatively unaffected. The lots are still open along Broadway, which can be accessed from Little York or Armstrong. First and Broadway should be complete this Thursday.”

Once the work is completed at First Street, construction will move to John Street to replace the bricks in that intersection as well, which will occur next week.

However, some question whether the bricks are the wisest of choice for such a popular intersection, rather than asphalt or concrete.

“The bricks were chosen for aesthetic reasons, although they also have the advantage of being easily repaired or replaced,” said Councillor Williams. “We could use asphalt, but it wouldn’t look as nice in my opinion. The bricks being taken out are too worn to be reused for town streets.”

The work at First Street is not the only project in town right now, which has made it difficult for many residents to get around. Wellington has been closed for bridge repair since early summer, and this week also saw the closure of the upper half of Centre Street for work on the railway crossing.

At a Town Council meeting on Monday, Councillor Williams brought up to Council and Town staff concerns raised from the public as to the need for more detour signs to be placed during road closures. While some are currently up at this time, residents not fully familiar with the ‘side streets’ in town are having trouble navigating around the closures.

In September, Mill Street will be closed for reconstruction to address the concerns surrounding the street’s water main, which was subject to several breaks and service disruptions this past winter.

According to a press release from the Town, the construction will see Mill Street provided with new concrete curbs, gutters, pavement, sidewalks and street lighting, and the work should take approximately eight weeks to complete.

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