Councilor Scott McKeen sometimes feels like he’s only responsible for all the road construction he sees.
“There were days when I was driving around my neighborhood and I was so upset I was mad at myself,” McKeen told CBC News this week.
“I didn’t know who else to blame.”
McKeen and his fellow council members have approved a massive construction season this year. The city has worked on 273 projects, in addition to regular maintenance of roads and utilities.
McKeen, who represents downtown, has had his fair share of encounters with projects.
“It’s worse this year,” he said. “I think it’s worse for a number of reasons.”
Major projects include the completion of the Valley Line Southeast LRT, the start-up of the Valley Line West LRT, the modernization of the Yellowhead Trail, the expansion of the Terwillegar Parkway and the new vision for Jasper Avenue.
The bigger ones are obvious, but there is also maintenance and repair work going on on roads and utilities, McKeen said.
He said the projects, approved by the council, are important for the city’s jobs, economy and infrastructure maintenance.
Adam Laughlin, director of integrated infrastructure services, said it was a banner year for projects. The Council approved capital projects worth $ 7 billion for 2019-22.
“The reason people see more of it is because there is a lot more of it,” Laughlin said in an interview this week. “The Council’s strong investment in shaping Edmonton is at the forefront.
The planned works include the renewal of 110 kilometers of local roadways and sidewalks and the paving of 30 kilometers of gravel roads.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not caused any delays in projects, Laughlin said.
Laughlin said construction was one of the areas that continued despite the pandemic, providing 13,000 jobs and involving 300 local businesses.
In some areas, such as 99th Street, lane closures slow traffic in both directions.
Gurdeep Mann, who owns two restaurants in Mill Woods, does his shopping at a grocery warehouse on 99th Street a few times a week.
His trip there used to take 15 minutes, but now takes at least 30.
“It takes us a lot of time that we could devote to our restaurant,” Mann said Wednesday. “It’s taking too long – the city should see this and do something about it.”
The 99th Street job is one of several road maintenance and utility projects underway in the city, in addition to the 273 projects.
Work on 99th Street and 63rd Avenue consists of mainline repairs, which are expected to be completed later next week, an Epcor spokesperson said.
Another water pipe project on 99th and 60th Avenue is expected to continue until early October.
Electrical work on 109th Street north of the High Level Bridge began on September 7 and is expected to last two months.
The city issued a permit for the works after deeming it essential for the overall upgrading of downtown infrastructure, a city spokesperson said.
Wade Fleming, owner of Central Tire on 109th Street, isn’t convinced the job needs to be done now.
He believes the slow traffic created by the lane closures will deter some customers from visiting his store at its busiest time of year, when people are shopping for winter or all-season tires.
“You’re going to have people trying to come here, get out on the ground, get in, park, get prizes,” Fleming said. ” They will not be able to. So, are you going to lose customers? Are you going to lose business? Yes, absolutely.
About 20 percent of the city’s projects are delayed and 10 percent are over budget.
Delayed projects include the Churchill LRT Station Renewal Design, Bonnie Doon Health Center Modernization, as well as CP Rail 50th Street drop and road widening.
“I think next year will be just as busy,” Laughlin said. “Due to the size of the capital program, there is work that will continue in the 2023-2026 capital program.”
One project Edmontonians can count on for years to come is the Valley Line West LRT, preliminary work on which has now started along 104th Avenue.