By Wojtek Dabrowski
Driving and walking on Yonge Street could get a little more hectic over the nest few months as the city rips up tons of concrete and pavement during a massive repair project.The work, targeting Yonge Street between Dundas and Grosvenor Streets, will cost the city about $1-million, said Kyle Rae, city councillor for Toronto Centre Rosedale.
“I’ve delayed having it done for the last three years, waiting for the (Yonge and Dundas) redevelopment to move forward, so now it’s time to do it,” Rae said. The city will also split the bill with the Downtown Yonge Street Business Improvement to the road and sidewalks. The Yonge and Dundas redevelopment includes Metropolis, a grand entertainment and retail complex, and a public square on the southeast corner of the intersection. Construction of Metropolis has yet to begin, while the Dundas Square is nearing completion.
Rae said DYSBIA’s road and sidewalk improvements, starting in min-September and slated to wrap up in late November, will have a “ripple effect” that will complement the square. Pieces of black-granite identical to the stone being used on parts of Dundas Square, will be inserted into the new sidewalks to make them appear larger and to “brand the area,” said James Robinson, the executive director of DYSBIA.
Concrete crosswalks are also being placed along the stretch of Yonge Street which is undergoing the repairs, Robinson added. But the upcoming construction will carry a set of logistical headaches with it as well. Makeshift wooden bridges will be built across the sections of sidewalk being repaired and traffic will grow more congested as parts of the street are shut down for road work.
Several major retailers are also worried that the construction will drive away customers. “It’ll probably kill us quite a bit,” said Scott McGaghey, a manager at an area Foot Locker outlet. He said construction in front of his store will probably make some people just walk around it, rather than come inside. “If it does start to kill our business, then we are going to talk to the city about it,” McGaghey said.
Future Shop sales manager Christian Collucci said he’s sure the store will lose business because of the construction, but isn’t prepared to complain to the city. “I’d rather have the sidewalks upgraded, personally.”
Staff Sgt. Bill McLeish at 52 Division said the street work won’t help traffic either. “It always is a traffic concern when we start blocking streets for any reason,” he said. To reduce possible construction fallout, Rae said the work will be done a few blocks at a time. Still, parts of th street will be locked down. Traffic will be able to move through, but only on one lane each way.
McLeish said this will translate into an inconvenience for commuters, but he isn’t expecting “gridlock”. He urged common sense as the construction goes on and said it’s quite possible that slowing traffic will spill over onto Ryerson routes like Gould Street.