February 1, 2016 12:14 am

Front Street businesses brace for six-month disruption

WATCH: Businesses and residents along a popular street in New Westminster are bracing for the worst. Tomorrow, Front Street will be closed for at least six months while crews remove an old parkade. As John Hua reports, some business owners say they'll be lucky if they even survive.

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There is little doubt shutting down Front St. will create traffic headaches in New Westminster’s downtown core. What is less certain is how many businesses along the stretch will survive the six-month traffic disruption.

“That’s the word I have to use: survive,” said Harm Woldring of The Wine Factory.

Woldring says previous construction along the Fraser Riverfront has lead to the demise of other stores. He’s also worried about the impact it will have on century-old buildings in the area.

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“We’re not sitting on the strongest foundation in the world here,” he said. “There’s a lot of concerns I have about when they pull that out of here.”

Woldring is referring to the demolition of the west portion of the Front St. parkade. It’s part of a larger plan to better connect the downtown with existing revitalization projects along the river.

“Ultimately in the end we think this project is going to enhance the revitalization of our downtown, so it’s going to be some short-term pain,” said Jonathan Cote, Mayor of New Westminster.

The greatest pain will be felt within the city’s road network. Front is a heavily-used route for commercial vehicles, and that traffic will now be diverted starting February 1.

READ MORE: Headaches for drivers expected as construction season looms

Between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., Trucks heading westbound will have to use Columbia St. and Royal Ave. for eastbound traffic.

Tenth Ave. between Southridge Dr. and McBride Blvd. will be used by trucks in both directions between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Maria Gomapas’ family lives on Tenth Ave. She said the added traffic in the evening will be a nightmare for her son.

“Right now he’s already complaining about the noise and I think he’ll complain more, but what can I do?” asked Gomapas.

“We’re hoping that some of that traffic can also find some alternative routes outside of the city,” said Cote. “There’s no doubt we’re anticipating that there is going to be some disruption for commuters and residents alike. We’re going to try our best to mitigate that.”

Dr. John Dang is holding onto hope that New Westminster will do everything it can to protect businesses like the Columbia Integrated Health Centre. He’s less confident in the construction timeline.

“Construction rarely ever goes on time,” he adds.

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