Major road construction wraps up in Timmins

The latest stage of Timmins' connecting link construction is coming to a close after six months, meaning a section of Algonquin Boulevard West will reopen to traffic this week.

The city's project manager, Ken Krcel, said that construction took longer than expected as crews worked to repair the aging roadway.

"A lot of deep digging, pits to be put in, some directional boring (and) some coring of the culverts," Krcel said of the challenging repair work.

"If all would've went well ... we would've been open possibly two to three weeks ago."

Mayor happy with result

Local traffic was detoured to nearby Wilson Avenue, while industrial vehicles were given a designated route north of the city centre.

The connecting link project first started in 2016, aiming to refurbish over 21 kilometres of roadway along Highway 101, the city's main artery. Unlike in 2020, construction was able to move forward this year with $3 million in provincial funding.

Mayor George Pirie said he's pleased with how the work between Theriault and Mattagami Boulevards turned out.

"The bypasses down through Wilson have worked exceptionally well," Pirie said.

"Quite frankly, very, very happy with how the project has gone."

As crews settle final touches like streetlights, nearby residents and businesses said they're relieved that the construction is ending.

The persistent noise and heavy detour traffic was a common complaint from residents CTV News spoke with.

Businesses impacted by roadwork

Stores located along the construction site were especially frustrated, telling CTV News that it heavily impacted customers' ability to get to their shops, thereby cutting off a sizeable portion of their sales.

Business owner Claudette Laporte told us that over the last six months of construction, she was on the verge of shuttering her pet care store since many of her customers would access her store via Algonquin Boulevard.

Krcel said that he understands the inconvenience of the work and that his contractors have tried to accommodate.

"The contractor does their best to maintain access to these businesses at all times, provide detour routes," Krcel said.

He admits, though, that businesses that need Algonquin for access were more heavily impacted. However, he said the work ultimately needed to be completed.

When asked about any efforts to accommodate or compensate businesses for lost sales due to the construction, Pirie said the local business community was largely unaffected and that the city is not required to reduce financial impacts.

"(Construction) happens all the time and no, the city is not responsible to mitigate any damages to revenues, no," Pirie said.

A lawyer in London, Ont., with expertise in municipal law, told CTV News in an email that businesses may be able to recover lost revenue if they can prove it was a result of heavy road construction.

Lawyer Paula Lombardi said it falls under a provision of the Expropriations Act called 'injurious affection,' which offers projections for property owners impacted by government construction.

"Some examples of damages for injurious affection include, but are not limited to, where ... road work interferes with the operation of a business on another property," Lombardi said.

"In some cases, the business owner may be entitled to business losses suffered while the highway is under construction."

Critical to complete construction

Krcel said the challenges with accessing business will likely ease in future phases of the project since many businesses have access through side streets.

In the end, he said the city's infrastructure is old and needs to be repaired as it continues to deteriorate.

"There's some old pipework in the ground, probably from the 30s and 40s ... even some of the structures were old concrete structures," Krcel said.

"It's critical that we do get this stuff changed out."

Krcel added that a revised schedule for the next segments of the connecting link construction will be presented to the city council next week.

It would focus more on the downtown section of Algonquin Blvd over the next three years, to make sure those are repaired sooner.