Downtown Streetscaping – Ouellette Ave

Ouellette Avenue $6.7M streetscape improvements complete

Sixteen months after construction began, a short stretch of a major downtown Windsor traffic artery is once again fully open.

From building face to building face, Ouellette Avenue between Wyandotte and Elliott Streets now has new bus bays, wide sidewalks, streetlights, benches, planters and more, as well as a new but narrower roadway down the middle.

“I’m glad it’s complete,” said city engineer Mark Winterton, who admired the finished stretch while driving along it Friday morning. “We appreciate the co-operation of the local businesses during the project.”

The city-contracted streetscape improvements on Ouellette Avenue finished just under budget at $6.7 million, including consultant fees and other internal costs, Winterton said. The budgeted cost by J & J Lepera Infrastructures, the company awarded the work by Windsor city council, had been $6.8 million.

Construction began in August 2017, when workers replaced all underground utilities. That portion of the project wrapped up in late November last year, with a three-month pause over the winter. Surface work then started in late February 2018 and lasted until Friday, ending almost two months behind schedule.

One hiccup occurred when a section of freshly laid concrete had to be torn up in July after a city inspection deemed it substandard.

“We test the quality of concrete on every project we do,” said Winterton, adding the strength of concrete used fell short of industry standard required for such infrastructure. “We caught it as it was being done, but by the time you know the product’s substandard, it’s already poured.”

J & J Lepera Infrastructures removed and replaced it at no cost to the city, Winterton said. The substandard material was said to be the fault of the concrete’s supplier.

A construction project in the stretch next to the New Canadian’s Centre of Excellence also contributed to the streetscape improvement project’s delayed completion.

“We had to work cooperatively,” Winterton said. Because Ministry of Labour regulations prohibit two contractors from working in the same space simultaneously, the city’s contractor had to erect additional hoarding to physically separate the workspaces.

During construction, only one of the street’s four lanes was open to traffic at any given time. While workers completed improvements on the west side, southbound traffic had the right-of-way, but flowed slowly. When work continued on the east side, northbound traffic inched along.

“We worked very extensively with the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association to ensure the project met their needs and worked around their festivals and events,” said Winterton, who acknowledged the strain the project put on businesses along the street.

Christian Komsa, a managing partner of country bar and restaurant The Bull and Barrel, said he’s glad the construction in front of his business is over.

“We’re very excited,” Komsa said. “It’s been a long year, and it definitely hurt business. It was very hard to access the premises.”

Komsa said the business dismantled and took down its patio, which was on city property, for the duration of the construction. Now that the work is over, Bull and Barrel will have a new patio built in the next two weeks, complete with a heated section with an opening roof for year-round use, as well as a new cabana with fire pits.

Although he would like to see customers return quickly now that his business is accessible again, Komsa said he expects it’ll be a few months’ wait before things return to normal.

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