Lethbridge’s 3rd Avenue reconstruction project kicked off on Wednesday.
While some may question commencing the project while the COVID-19 pandemic is still impacting the local economy, city officials are feeling confident in their approach.
“3rd Ave. South is one of the oldest streets in the city, and it really needed to have the infrastructure done,” said Lethbridge Councillor Mark Campbell.
“We needed to get it done, because it’s going to happen sooner or later. The sooner we do it, the better it’s going to be, and it’s going to be such a revitalization for the downtown,” he added.
The two year, $10 million project will begin at 4 Street and go on until 8 Street.
Project manager Crystal Scheit, with the City of Lethbridge, said this new look will make the downtown area appear more “vibrant.”
“We’re going to be implementing what we call streetscaping out there, which will include benches, trees. There’s going to be raised parking out there, wider sidewalks,” Scheit said.
The city said residents should expect rotating street closures until at least the fall of 2021, when the projected is expected to be completed.
Despite the temporary loss of parking and street space, Ted Stilson, business owner and Downtown BRZ executive director, believes the “short term pain is worth the long term gain.”
“This is probably the biggest infrastructure project the city has done in over 40 years in downtown, the last one was one Festival Square and the Galt Gardens,” Stilson recalled.
“We’re really excited about that investment in the downtown core and it ties in really well with the new branding campaign,” he added.
David Foster, who owns Foster & Sons Jewellers on 3 Avenue, said he too, believes the short term inconvenience of construction and closed-off streets are worth the end goal of beautifying city streets.
When it comes to potentially losing customers as the project proceeds, Foster said he isn’t too worried about that.
“The plus side of this is that it’s going to promote more walking traffic in the downtown, because it’s going to make this area… more walk-able,” he said.
The city is advising residents to drive with caution around the construction site and follow posted detours.