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Edmonton High Street Mile race to help shops hurt by 2-year bridge closure

WATCH ABOVE: Brian Heatherington joined Global News Morning to talk about the Edmonton High Street Mile race.

There were no speeches and no ribbon cutting, but the reopening of the 102 Avenue bridge over Groat Road in July 2016 was greeted with champagne and cheers anyways.

READ MORE: 102 Avenue bridge re-opening celebration sees champagne and cheers

That’s because for two years, construction on the 102 Avenue Bridge had a drastic impact on the High Street and lower 124 Street shopping districts.

The area is home to many independent businesses, including shops, restaurants and cafes. That two-year closure left them hurting, with some claiming the lack of traffic in the area meant anywhere from 10 to 50 per cent less business. Some stores were not able to weather the storm, and were forced to close.

READ MORE: 102 Ave. bridge construction ‘nail in the coffin’ for Edmonton’s Call the Kettle Black

“It had a tremendous impact on the area businesses. In fact one or two did close because of the impact,” area resident and race planner Brian Heatherington said. He and some other residents of the Old Glenora neighbourhood on the other side of the ravine came up with the race idea.

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“The area is now back, almost to normal, and the focus of our run is to draw attention to the shops of High Street and the lower part of 124 Street and the merchants that have suffered quite significantly by the closure of the bridge.”

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Work to replace the bridge over Groat Road began in July 2014, and was set to last until September 2015. However, the bridge’s girders were not properly braced during construction and three of them buckled in March 2015. The problem shut down Groat Road for weeks and pushed back the opening of the project until July 2016.

Crews are shown working to repair several steel girders that buckled under their own weight during installation of a bridge along Groat Road in Edmonton, Alta., on Monday, March 16, 2015. Three large steel girders that buckled on a key bridge under construction in Edmonton last month are being removed for repair or replacement.
Crews are shown working to repair several steel girders that buckled under their own weight during installation of a bridge along Groat Road in Edmonton, Alta., on Monday, March 16, 2015. Three large steel girders that buckled on a key bridge under construction in Edmonton last month are being removed for repair or replacement. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Damaged girders on the 102 Avenue bridge, March 16, 2015.
Damaged girders on the 102 Avenue bridge, March 16, 2015. Fletcher Kent, Global News
The new completion date for the 102 Avenue Bridge is Sept. 15, 2016.
The new completion date for the 102 Avenue Bridge is Sept. 15, 2016. Kendra Slugoski, Global News
Progress is being made on straightening four bent girders on the 102 Avenue in Edmonton, March, 27, 2015.
Progress is being made on straightening four bent girders on the 102 Avenue in Edmonton, March, 27, 2015. Vinesh Pratap, Global News
The girders over Groat Road. March 24, 2015
The girders over Groat Road. March 24, 2015 Global News

Now that the road has been re-opened, a race planned for this spring hopes to bring even more activity back to the area. The Edmonton High Street Mile is just that: a one-mile run on 102 Avenue from around 139 Street to about 50 yards short of the junction with 124 Street, right in the heart of High Street.

The event for youths to elite-level milers will be held on Sunday, May 7.

“The course is straight, wide and flat, so we are anticipating some exciting, fast times,” Hetherington said. There will be five separate races to broaden the appeal of the event.

The first race will be for kids under 12, which will be a quarter mile run from the old Royal Alberta Museum site to the finish line.

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“The second race is for the older kids up to 19, and there are some very fast runners in the schools in Edmonton. The next race is the open, where anybody can run,” Hetherington said.

“After that we have the one thing that I think will be the really exciting one. It’s a team race, where anybody can enter a team of four,” Hetherington said, explaining that the option is popular with companies and fitness groups. The entry fee is $350 and proceeds will go to the Canadian Paralympic Foundation. The final race will be for elite runners.

John Stanton, CEO and founder of Running Room, was an early supporter of the race idea and the company is a sponsor of the event. For more information, including registration details, visit the Running Room’s website.

READ MORE: Edmonton business says 102 Avenue bridge construction to blame for closure

The new $32-million bridge has four lanes of traffic which will allow ETS buses to travel across. The bridge also has wider sidewalks and a bike lane.