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London drivers to enjoy break from downtown road construction over winter season

A downtown London sign alerts residents that businesses remain open despite road construction. .
A downtown London sign alerts residents that businesses remain open despite road construction. . Natalie Lovie / 980 CFPL

While many London drivers aren’t looking forward to the winter driving season, they can at least enjoy a break from road construction in the downtown area.

Sections of York and Dundas streets that have been closed for the entire construction season are set to reopen to traffic by Dec. 21.

“A week to 10 days earlier than that is our target, but we will go with our deadline of Dec. 21 until we know what the weather gods have in store for us,” said Jim Yanchula, the city’s manager of downtown projects.

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Weather remains the biggest barrier to progress, Yanchula explains.

“The weather gods have not been with us in this autumn season. We always have a target and then we get rain when rain isn’t expected and snow and colder weather when it isn’t expected at this time of year and we’re taking all kinds of extraordinary measures to plow through even despite that,” Yanchula said.

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READ MORE: With winter looming, Dundas Place construction remains on schedule

Work on phase one of the Dundas Place project — the section between Richmond and Ridout streets — is currently on track after the city implemented a 24-hours, six-day-a-week construction schedule in October.

Christopher Runciman, manager of Heroes Comics on Dundas, is anticipating a busy Christmas shopping season despite the ongoing work.

“[The construction] has made for a more interesting summer, but we’ve persevered and we’ve maintained everything as status quo in the store and we’ve done our best to still meet all the needs and requirements for our customers to facilitate them being able to pursue their interests and we’ve muscled through,” he said.

Runciman understands that the work means short-term pain for long-term gain.

READ MORE: London could lose $160 million in road work savings if BRT is scrapped

“We’re, of course, looking forward to its conclusion, but at the same time it’s a necessary thing for the City of London and for us to grow and prosper as a city and as a core community,” he said. “It is something that has been long overdue.”

York Street will also reopen to commuters at Talbot Street, but Yanchula notes that the work will resume on April 1, 2019.

“Downtown will be under construction because we have to upgrade the quality and the size of the infrastructure over the next 10 years so we’re going to have to learn how to live with detours for a little while in the future, but it will be suspended during the winter so that vehicular traffic can still pass through and snow plows can do their job and things like that,” Yanchula said.

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Phase two of Dundas Place — the section from Richmond Street east to Wellington Street — will also get underway next spring.