Business-owners still frustrated as Moose Jaw construction progresses

Construction progresses on Moose Jaw's High Street. Adrian Raaber

Six months after it was supposed to be completed, construction on Moose Jaw’s High Street has started once again. This time, with the city and new contractors at the wheel.

“We’ve got businesses down there that are suffering, and we need progress,” Mayor Fraser Tolmie said. “We need the roads fixed, and that’s part of our job.”

READ MORE: City of Moose Jaw fires contractor hired to replace water main on High Street

SaskPower has been finishing underground wiring for street lights all week, hoping to wrap up their work by the end of the long weekend.

On Tuesday, a paving contractor will start on trench work, excavation, backfill, and compaction – a process that could take seven to ten days per block. Once that’s done, another contractor will begin sidewalk repair.

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Moose Jaw’s director of engineering, Josh Mickleborough, said this will likely be the longest part of the repair work. The final step is an asphalt and concrete overlay that will take a few days per block to complete.

“We’re hoping to have the trenches buttoned up in about three weeks, and then the paving and concrete crews will move in as that work progresses,” Mickleborough explained. “It’ll probably be a couple more weeks after that that things are finalized.”

The original project was contracted to finish by November 30, 2017.

“You could see the schedule slipping, and we knew it was going to be a challenge,” Mickleborough noted, adding teams are dealing with a transition period picking up work where the previous contractor left off. “You’re never quite sure what was done, what was not done, but we’re confident we’ve got a good crew involved on the city side of things, and we’re going to be using reputable contractors to do the asphalt and concrete work.”

READ MORE: Moose Jaw replacing 2.7 km of old water main throughout city

The city would not comment on whether legal action will be taken against the previous contractor.

Some shops along High Street have seen their business drop by as much as thirty per cent since the second phase of the city’s $117 million dollar Water Main Replacement Program began last year. They’re frustrated by the delay and want to see consistent updates on progress.

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READ MORE: ‘Wild west’ of roads driving business away from Moose Jaw street

“That’s going to take time, it’s going to take money, and it’s going to take blocking the streets off,” Business owner Don McKenzie said. “Do we have any choice in the matter? At this point, no. We’re all sitting here kidnapped by the city for what should have been done properly last year.”

The City says it will issue weekly updates on the progress of construction.

This comes shortly after High Street was dubbed the worst road in Saskatchewan by a CAA campaign, with two other Moose Jaw streets cracking the top ten. Despite this, Mayor Tolmie expects a different outlook come fall.

“The top three roads we have voted weren’t voted due to neglect, they’re under construction,” Tolmie said. “One road was a storm sewer break in the middle of winter. We couldn’t pave that. We’re going to be paving that now. That’ll be getting fixed. The other one, I thought it was actually within city limits and thought it was a water line break… It’s actually out of city limits and it’s with the province, and we’re going to be talking to the province about that.”

In the meantime, those affected by ongoing High Street construction are ready for the road to get worse before it gets better… As long as there’s an end in sight.

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“Make this your number one priority this year to get this finished. I don’t want to see them working on this is October.”

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