Drivers can expect commuter chaos over the next few months with the intersection of York and Richmond streets closed.
"We need to dig it up and replace the sewers, the water, the hydro," says the manager of Downtown Projects, Jim Yanchula.
"At an intersection we like to do that when traffic volumes are lower so we waited until after school was out."
Throughout the day Tuesday, drivers were caught off guard. Many were seen driving around the closed sign, and then were forced to turn around.
There was also one accident in the mid-afternoon with two vehicles trying to turn around at the same time.
“This is a major street you know,” says Your Taxi driver Mustafa Mohammed. “Downtown, the train station, the Greyhound. The construction is going to cause delays, and make it more difficult.”
Just metres north of the intersection at LA Mood Comics, there is concern about the impact.
“We'll have to let our customers know we are still open for business,” says co-owner Carol Vandenberg.
Since opening on Richmond Street, Vandenberg says this is the third time they've had to deal with headaches.
“Two years ago they closed the street to put in electrical…they gave us a zombie fence which was difficult for garbage and deliveries. Now with the new bus lanes on King Street the deliveries are difficult, and they also took away the parking.”
Right on the corner where construction is taking place is the You Made It Cafe.
“The construction people have been communicative with us,” says Head Chef Kathleen Grealis. “They said they help us when they can…but the biggest issue for us is getting the delivery van to us.”
Grealis says it’s going to take patience and communication to get through the next few months.
But not all businesses are upset. Despite the impediment, Mohammed is actually pleased with the closure.
His company has an exclusive contract with Via Rail which allows them to park in front of the station. He claims other taxi companies are parking illegally to take their fares.
“We pay to be allowed to pick up people from here…we can park on here,” says Mohammed. “If the road closure stops the others from parking on York Street, I’ll be happy.”
A few people who ride the train frequently say they will just have to leave a little earlier to get to the station on time.
In an email to CTV News, VIA Rail’s Jonathan Provencher said, “It is difficult to assess how much of an impact this construction will have…We have been coordinating with the City of London to minimize and mitigate the effects of said construction to keep the station easy of access to everyone.”
Yanchula says doing this now is essential to get everyone sized for the 21st century. He adds the pipes have to be big enough and last long enough for the city to grow downtown.
“We can’t have condos downtown, or service development unless we dig up roads, replace and upsize the infrastructure.”
He adds separating the storm and sewage water also allows the city to have a cleaner Thames River.
Even when this project is complete around Labour Day, motorists will still have to deal with roadblocks on York Street.
Stage 3 of the project will close York from Richmond to Clarence Street for the remainder of the year.