As the city of St. Thomas expands there is a need for major infrastructure changes.

City council approved its 2021 budget Jan. 4, and that included a massive overhaul to Fairview Ave.

"The primary reason the road needs to be reconstructed to improve traffic capacity on the corridor, and improve aging underground infrastructure," says project manager Patrick Anckaert, manager of Capital Works for the city of St. Thomas.

"This is the largest capital project we have. We've budgeted $10.8M dollars for it."

Anckaert says the project is 1.6 km, spanning from Elm St. to Southdale Line. It will move from a rural two-lane to urban three-lane cross-section.

"We have two roundabouts planned," says Anckaert who described all the changes planned during the months-long project.

"We'll have one at Bill Martyn Parkway and another at Southdale Line in coordination with the county of Elgin. We also have traffic signal at Axford Parkway. There will be bike lanes on both sides and multi-use path on west side of street from the pedestrian cross over at Doug Tarry Sports Complex to Axford Parkway."

Anckaert says the finished product will look similar to the changes made along the east and west ends of Elm St.

Residents along Fairview are looking forward to upgrades to both accessibility from their driveways and sewer upgrades.

"The biggest issue we are looking forward to is drainage," says Rob Velestuk, who lives at Fairview and Axford.

"We've had a lot of issues with water backing up, and everything flowing to our houses. We've put a lot of money into preventative issues so the drainage is needed here."

His neighbour Bob Mason agrees, and hopes the city goes beyond the minimum required upgrades.

"This construction is overdue," says Mason.

"I've been here 40 years, and things in the area have really changed. There is a lot of development that wasn't here originally so upgrades in hydro would be nice and draining is an issue here.

There are sidewalks where there was fields before and a lot of kids walking up and down the road with the schools in the area, so that's going to help."

The tenders for this project went out before Christmas and the deadline closes Thursday Jan. 14.

Construction is expected to begin from the south end to the north in the spring when the weather improves.

"Short term is going to be a pain because there is not really an easy route to get out to north side," says Velestuk who is actually looking forward to the stop light in front of his house.

"We've got to deal with it and if it's going to approve curb appeal, the look of neighbourhood and drainage I'm looking forward to that. The dirt is going to be a pain but that comes with perils of new construction."

Mason questions whether three lanes is necessary and is slightly worried about traffic backups due to the stop light.

There will also be a lot of work disrupting their access in and out of their home for months.

"I'm not looking forward to the mess, but I am looking forward to having it done," says Mason.

Anckaert says diagrams are available on the city's website and there is a 10-year plan which lays out all their future projects.

With limited roads going north-south in the city, this work is essential.

"This is an important project to keep city flowing," says Anckaert.