Those who commute through downtown London, Ont., may need to find an alternative route as Queens Avenue is set to be completely closed off between Wellington and Richmond Streets as of Wednesday.
The traffic changes come as the city gears up for Phase 2 of the Downtown Loop and Municipal Infrastructure Improvements project, the first of London’s new rapid transit projects that includes curbside bus-only lanes as well as enhanced rapid transit stops.
“The project will also add new streetscape elements as well as transportation improvements above ground, while repairing and replacing aging sewers, watermains and other underground infrastructure,” city staff wrote in a statement.
Phase 1 of the Downtown Loop was built in 2021 to add a new bus-only lane on King Street between Ridout and Wellington Streets. Phase 2 on Queens Avenue started in 2022, now bringing “planned carry-over work” into 2023.
“We’re looking to get started as soon as possible and get as much done in one construction season as possible,” said Jennie Dann, director of construction and infrastructure services with the city.
Picked up construction began on Tuesday, first bringing lane restrictions on Queens’s Avenue between Richmond and Talbot Streets, including “the Talbot intersection to allow for hydro work in the area,” city staff said.
While the lane restrictions are anticipated to last for approximately two weeks, Wednesday’s closure is scheduled to stand until the summer.
“It is a full closure, including the Clearance (Street) intersection, but the blocks from Queens Avenue from Richmond heading west out of town will still be open,” Dann said.
The city said that destinations in the block of Queens Avenue set to be affected by the closure can be accessed via Richmond Street, as a “temporary two-way traffic configuration will be in place to support local access to businesses and properties.”
“Motorists travelling westbound on Queens Avenue will be detoured to Dufferin Avenue and York Street for east-west connections, while this closure is in place between Wellington Street and Richmond Street,” city staff said.
While detour signs will be installed to guide traffic around the closure, the city recommends drivers to “use alternate routes when travelling through the area and are advised to expect delays and plan ahead.”
The city said that all buses operating on Queens Avenue will be detoured to Dufferin Avenue. Transit users are advised to visit the LTC website for the most up-to-date information about route changes.
Pedestrian and bike access will also be maintained through the area, according to the city. Cyclists are encouraged to use Dundas Place where connections to the Dundas Cycle Track and Dundas-TVP are available for east-west cycling through the core.
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Additionally, only local traffic will be maintained on Queens Avenue, from Clarence to Richmond Streets, to accommodate access to municipal parking lot #5 as well as properties and businesses in the area.
“We know 2023 is going to be a busy construction season and that’s why we’re really prioritizing that work on Queens (Avenue) from Wellington to Richmond (Streets),” Dann said. “Our aim is to try to complete that construction before the end of the summer and restore traffic flow on that really important corridor.”
Looking ahead into the third and final phase of the Downtown Loop project, lane restrictions are also set to begin next month on Wellington Street from Queens Avenue to York Street. Temporary restrictions are currently in place at Wellington Street, just north of the King Street intersection to allow for utility relocation, which is set to last until March 31.
Periodic lane restrictions are also in place at Wellington Street, between Grey Street and Queens Avenue, as crews install temporary traffic signals and streetlighting prior to the start of construction.
These restrictions are in place as the city also prepares for the first phase of another rapid transit project moving forward in London, Wellington Gateway, with the goal of “increasing the frequency and reliability of transit while improving traffic capacity.”
More information about upcoming construction will be shared at a virtual pre-construction meeting on Thursday, March 5, at 5 p.m.
Information on how to join the meeting is available at the following websites: