Main Street business owners relieved as road partially reopens

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Major road revitalization began May 2015

The Main Street revitalization included widened sidewalks and separated bike paths, seen here in front of the Green Door Restaurant in Old Ottawa East. (CBC)

By Matthew Kupfer, CBC News

Business owners on Ottawa's Main Street are relieved a section of the road has reopened to car, bicycle and pedestrian traffic after more than a year of construction and traffic chaos.

Main Street was shut down in stages, including the stretch from Clegg Street to Lees Avenue, while the major redesign took place.

Café Qui Pense, at the corner of Main and Hazel streets, was right in the middle of the construction. Owner Gabriel Houle said he had fewer customers last summer as crews dug up the sidewalk in front of his coffee shop.

"At some point there was a big hole right here, 30 feet deep, and so you had to walk on pieces of wood to get in the coffee shop," he said.​ "So that, obviously, is not helpful."

Houle said the redesigned street is bringing more potential customers by his café and it was worth last summer's strain.

"We're really happy about the current situation. If you look at the sidewalks, they're almost double the size they used to be. There's a great cycling path."

The Green Door owner Ron Farmer says his vegetarian restaurant is a destination for customers, who managed to navigate the dusty road and changing traffic restrictions.

"Now that it's over, you can look at it like the city has spent millions of dollars improving the area right in front of our business," Farmer said. "We had to put up with some difficulty, but it's over and it's going to great for years and years."

'A brave face'

Capital ward Coun. David Chernushenko said Main Street shops are a good example for other businesses caught in the construction crunch.

"The businesses had to keep up a brave face," he said. "The message had to be: we're open, it's dusty, it's noisy, but we're here, please come down."

There wasn't much fanfare when the section of the street reopened on Aug. 16 because work isn't quite finished, Chernushenko said. He recommends commuters stick to the alternate routes they've been using to avoid the road, at least for now.

Main Street is reduced to a single southbound lane between Clegg Street and the McIllraith Bridge. Chernushenko says construction is on schedule and he expects the road to reopen completely in late fall.

On time, on budget: End in sight for Main Street reconstruction

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The long-awaited end to Main Street's reconstruction is close enough that David Chernushenko is starting to think about planning a grand reopeningparty. WAYNE CUDDINGTON / POSTMEDIA

Matthew Pearson, Ottawa Citizen

The long-awaited end to Main Street’s reconstruction is close enough that David Chernushenko is starting to think about planning a grand reopening party.

“We’re definitely past half way,” the Capital councillor said Thursday of the multi-year, multimillion-dollar project, which he said is about two-thirds finished.

Main Street’s infrastructure was at the end of its life cycle, so the city ordered up a top-to-bottom facelift from Echo Drive to the Rideau River. Wider sidewalks, cycletracks, new trees, public art, street lighting and signage are above ground; new water mains and sewers run underground.

The reconstruction also presented a chance to narrow the street in an effort to reduce speeding along a stretch of road that’s a popular choice for north-south commuters.

The total budget is $39 million, plus another $16.3 million to fix up the McIlraith Bridge.

Preliminary work began early last year, but the big shovels didn’t come out until the end of May, which is also when the major traffic detours kicked in. It’s expected to be completed next summer, and is on time and on budget, the councillor said.

“We have no reason to expect it won’t open on time.”

In fact, a short stretch between Lees and Hawthorne avenues reopened to traffic in both directions on Thursday.

A key stretch between Lees and Clegg Street is scheduled to open to traffic in both directions on Aug. 16, according to Chernushenko, although the new cycletracks are already popular with many cyclists.

“We’re in the last stretch,” said Helen Weaver, owner of 3 Trees, an eclectic shop that sells clothing, jewelry and handicrafts. “The progress they’ve made is amazing.”

She was anticipating a rough couple of years as detours and dust drove customers away, but her sales are actually up, she said.

Weaver also praised the city’s efforts to keep the community up to speed on the project, including more than 20 public working group meetings, which she said were invaluable. “If you’re there the whole time, you understand the process.”

Main St. closure from Hawthorne to Lees

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City of Ottawa

Starting on Monday, July 25, Main Street will be completely closed to traffic from Hawthorne Ave. to Lees Ave. for the construction of the concrete crosswalks. The closure will remain in effect through Friday, August 5.

During that period, the section of Main Street from Hawthorne Ave. to Greenfield Ave. will be open to both northbound and southbound traffic.

The intersections of Main Street/Hawthorne Ave. (eastbound to northbound and southbound to westbound movements) and Main Street/Lees Ave. (westbound to southbound movement) will remain open to traffic.

The recommended detour is via Greenfield Ave. and Lees Ave. (see map below).

Detour information for OC Transpo buses is available at

We thank you for your continued patience and support during construction. For further information or to provide comments, please contact the City’s project manager at the addresses below.

Josée Vallée, P. Eng.
Infrastructure Services Department
Design and Construction Municipal East Branch City of Ottawa
100 Constellation Crescent, 6th Floor
Ottawa, ON K2G 6J8
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel.:613-580-2424 x 21805
Fax: 613-560-6064


DetourMap MainStreet July2016

Download a PDF of the map

Mayor declares "business as usual" during Main St. construction

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Kristy Cameron, CFRA

Mayor Jim Watson and Capital Ward Councillor David Chernushenko made a shopping trip on Main Street Monday morning, to remind residents that businesses are still open amid construction.

Standing just metres away from an excavator, the pair unveiled a blue sign that reads "businesses open as usual."

However, with northbound traffic closed off at Clegg Street and only a single southbound lane open for the nearly two year project, Watson admitted it will be tough for businesses.

"Obviously it's going to take a lot of patience," said Watson. "But the end result ... is going to be a metamorphosis of Main Street."

Watson says Main St. will become a "complete street" with that is more pedestrian and cycle friendly.

Owner of Singing Pebble Books Mika Weaver admitted she is concerned about business during the construction period but said she appreciates the city's support.

"It's a little bit challenging and any help is so appreciated," said Weaver.

Capital Councillor David Chernushenko said the city will be focusing on easing traffic congestion but said the city will not be providing tax breaks to businesses along Main Street.

Main Street is expected to re-open by late fall 2016.