By Trevor Suffield
Feb. 5, 2009
A portion of Sargent Avenue in the West End will be closed to traffic for the next six weeks as the city works to replace aging culverts along Omands Creek.
Sargent near Empress Street will remain closed during the construction. As well, No. 15 bus service will be re-routed onto Sanford Street during the closure.
Work on the project, which is expected to cost $1.6 million, began last week.
The city is replacing three existing large diameter double corrugated steep pipe culverts because of their deteriorating condition.
The structures stability is compromised and if not replaced could pose a risk to water, sewer and gas utilities in the area, according to a city spokesperson.
Ken Allen, a communications officer with the city, said preparations for the closure have been ongoing for months.
Just like when we re-routed traffic on Bishop Grandin over the Fort Garry Bridge last summer, we had a pretty extensive communication plan around that, and that's the same thing with this project, Allen said.
The city scheduled construction to begin in January so it would not affect nearby businesses during the holiday shopping season.
Most area business owners were notified about the street closure more than a month ago.
Keith Walls, zone manager at the Rona located at 1333 Sargent Ave., said the city did a good job of letting area businesses know about the closure.
We received lots of notification from the city, Walls said. We received an email about a month and a half ago.
So far the closure is having very little effect on their sales, he said.
Customer traffic from this time last year is within 20 people, so (it) really (has had) no effect, he said.
Lauren McEachern, manager of Auntie Fanny's Fine Furniture at 1370 Sargent, said he hasn't noticed any change in the number of customers visiting his retail outlet.
We really haven't found any difference in customer count, McEachern said, adding it's too early to say exactly what kind of impact the closure will have on business.
McEachern said that he was concerned that the city didn't do more to notify area businesses about the closure of Sargent.
We just saw the sign, and heard the news, but didn't actually get any warnings, McEachern said.
Area residents don't seem to have been inconvenienced by the closure.
Larry Santucci, who lives in the West End, said he was prepared for the closure after spotting a sign the city posted in the area.
They had the sign up for a while, so we knew what was coming, said Santucci, adding that he regularly drives his daughter to work in the area.
You can still get around the closure by going down Sanford, he said.
For Lem Jackson, owner of Metal-Etch Graphics located at 1143 Sanford St., the closure might be a positive thing for his business.
The closure could be good to a point where it might increase traffic and awareness of my business during the seven weeks, Jackson said.
St. Matthews Avenue is scheduled to have its culverts replaced next year, with a cost of $1.9 million