Staff hoping to condense Main Street, King William construction from four years to two

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As the old joke goes, Canada’s seasons are: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction. The reality isn’t far off, and it’s likely to feel even moreso later this year when major construction on Huntsville’s main thoroughfare is slated to begin. Town and District staff are hoping to ease the pain a bit by condensing the proposed construction duration from a four-year spread to two.

In a report presented at the November 21 General Committee meeting, Town staff noted that there are four major projects planned for Main Street and King William Street between Lorne Street and Highway 60 in the next four years.

Those projects, assuming all receive budget approvals at the Town and District levels, are:

-Main Street between Lorne and the swing bridge, planned for 2019-2020: District water, sewer and storm water system replacement and the Town of Huntsville streetscape project;
-Main Street/King William between the swing bridge and Scott Street, planned for 2020: District water, sewer and storm water system replacement, a sewage pipe connection from Golden Pheasant to Mountview to accommodate the decommissioning of the Mountview sewage plant, and sidewalk installation on the north side of Main street from the swing bridge to Chaffey Street;
-King William between Scott Street and Highway 60, planned for 2021: District road resurfacing; and
-Swing bridge rehabilitation, planned for 2022.

Following a review of those plans, Town and District staff are proposing a condensed and combined two-year schedule to ease traffic congestion and disruption to businesses and the public. The revised plan would have all of the work needed between the swing bridge and Highway 60 done in 2019, provided design documents can be completed in time, while Main Street work between Lorne Street and the swing bridge, including the streetscape project and the bridge rehabilitation, would occur in 2020.

In response to a question from Mayor Scott Aitchison about road closures and the possibility of round-the-clock work, Mark Misko, Director of Engineering and Transportation for the District of Muskoka, said that the intent is to keep one lane of traffic passable throughout construction as much as possible, though he didn’t discount the possibility of occasional road closures particularly in the section from Lorne Street to the swing bridge where there is less room available.

“We had a really good meeting with the BIA and a lot of those issues came to light. July and August are critical seasons for the businesses downtown, weekends is a sweet spot of businesses in that area that they depend on,” said Misko. “We talked about extended (construction) hours. There was discussion about contract performance bonuses for early completion…so that’s all on the table right now.”

If approved, work would commence in late spring or early summer of 2019.

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6 Comments

  1. Does not make any difference to me or my friends.
    Have not shopped downtown Huntsville for years.
    Always a hassle finding a parking spot.
    At my age one does not park 2 blocks away and walk.
    There are so many other choices available outside the downtown.
    Good luck with the construction.

    • Matthew Tynan on

      The Huntsville Place Mall could use some patronage. Good indoor exercise for seniors, great parking and also has a very nice coffee shop/ bookstore.

  2. I understand the reason for constructing the section from the Swing Bridge to Highway 60 next year: after all these years, it is incumbent upon the District to close the Mountview Sewage Plant. Also, with the relocated Canadian Tire Gas Bar and the new Starbuck’s, some fancy footwork will be required regarding left-turn lanes. This problem could be ameliorated significantly by closing Scott Street and extending Meadow Park Drive to the laneway which exits at the Huntsville Mall traffic signals. Of course the laneway would have to be reconstructed (including widening and possible curb and gutter). The existing entrance to Shoppers’ Drug Mart would become a right-in only.
    .
    My only other concern is the construction of a sidewalk on the west side of King William Street, specifically behind the street mall. Either one builds the sidewalk at the same slope as the parking spaces, or one increases the slope of the parking spaces to reduce the cross-slope of the sidewalk. Both solutions are unsuitable respectively for the pedestrians or the vehicles. The interface is extremely dangerous for the pedestrians at both the access and egress. Perhaps these businesses will require dedicated parking behind their buildings; allowing for a terraced garden with a bench(es) in front.

  3. Maybe we are looking at this all wrong.
    We should be thanking Mr. Doughty for Commerce Park. At least I don’t need to go downtown much these days with Wally mart, Home desperate, the mighty Independent, a car dealer ship or two or three and don’t forget Wilson’s paint store, Marks, the Bulk up and a host of restaurants.
    The banks have pretty well eliminated the need to visit them with their move to online service.
    I don’t really need to visit the little tourist boutique type stores much, despite the fact that they are kind of neat to browse if I’m on holiday.
    I used to visit the theater often, but lately the movies have suffered from the effects of multi million dollar special effects tagged onto a plot written by someone in grade 5 and besides, for the cost of a visit to the theater I can buy or download the movie and have it to see anytime at home.
    Life is changing and the construction might actually be the biggest draw downtown this year… anybody’s guess what they might find down there. Who knows what pipes they will break and all that sort of stuff. If all goes well it will be like a civil engineering field trip just to watch them work!
    One thing is for sure….. the town will be better off after this is all complete.

    If all else fails I can always shop in Dorset or order in from Amazon.
    This could actually be fun!

  4. What a bad attitude for our lovely downtown and all the merchants. I try to shop there as often as l can, and my visitors always want to pop into the stores when they come to Huntsville. As do the the people that flock to our Main Street all summer for our many festival and different stores.

    • Hey June.
      Not sure I’d call it a bad attitude.
      I have a policy to buy local if I can find what I need and it is within 15% of the best price I can find. The result of this is that I do indeed support local business almost exclusively. How many other businesses in the area do this? I only run to Costco maybe two or three times a year and it is more of a holiday experience than real shopping.
      All I’m saying is that the doom and gloom about the construction is unfounded. It won’t be that bad. If it is indeed very time consuming people will just go around it, like I suggested. It is still Huntsville, after all, just not the small areas of the main street where work might be going on any given day.
      On the other hand I hope that the planners don’t forget that ample and reasonably cheap parking is an essential part of any shopping area. The simple fact is that almost all customers arrive from rural areas around the town via a car of some type. Maybe not the best for our environment but the sad fact of the case as there is no alternative way to get to the downtown that actually works. So… provide the parking, like they do at the malls, Canada Tire etc. or you will not be as busy as you might wish to be.
      Besides, this was also a bit of humor… we shall just have to wait and see what happens.

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