May 26th, 2024

Major construction projects set to begin in the Hat

By COLLIN GALLANT on April 18, 2024.

Major road work on Division Avenue S. this summer is scheduled to add pathway, replace roadway and utility systems beneath the busy stretch that includes the intersection with Seventh Street (pictured).--News Photo Collin Gallant

Work on three major roadways in Medicine Hat is about to begin, including a remake of Division Avenue, leading to a summer of road closures in the city centre and blockage of a main route to the north end in late spring.

City officials laid out the coming road, bridge and utility construction plan – totalling more than $40 million – this week for the media, stating pain this summer for motorists will lead to long-term gains for the transportation networks and downtown.

Starting Monday, crews will begin phased work to replace major underground utility systems on Third Street in the city centre – a long-expected continuation of a replacement program for 100-plus-year-old water and sewer lines in the downtown.

As well, Altawana Drive, leading to Crescent Heights, will also be closed from late May to July.

Along with more regular bridge maintenance, minor projects and a typical overlay replacement program is a plan to redesign Division Avenue that divides the Southeast and Southwest Hill communities.

“It’s replacing a road structure – a full rebuild – and we’re excited to bring it up to very modern standards,” said Pat Bohan, the city’s managing director of development and infrastructure. “It’s a concept called complete streets, and in conjunction we’re putting in a multi-use pathway all along Division.

“It will be an almost continuous (height) pathway – no ups and downs – for the most part.”

And as well this summer, said Bohan, trail way will be extended down Old Cemetery Road.

That road continues from Division Avenue to College Avenue, which features another trail south and the east-west trail along the Seven Persons Creek.

Currently the lanes on Division are wider than standard but not wide enough for parking, turning or passing lanes, said Bohan.

“Right now it’s a lane and a half in two directions, so we’ll narrow that single lane in each direction, which will calm traffic and allow (room for the pathway), add some trees to create more of a boulevard look,” he said.

The street is also an anomaly as it divides two communities that were developed on grid street patterns at different times, but with different avenue lengths. That means the street intersections don’t align, creating a jag for motorists.

“It’s not really any more difficult than other projects,” said Bohan, who said the stretch was last addressed more than 20 years ago.

Downtown, Hamm Construction has promised to keep pedestrian access open and provide offsite parking for workers to help area businesses avoid headache experienced in similar work a decade ago on First and Second streets.

New work will be rolled out in five phases, including three intersections involving Third Street or Second Avenue, and the 600 and 500 blocks of Third Street, with work proceeding and opening up until the fall. A final phase, the 300 block of Sixth Avenue, will be taken up in 2025.

In the north end, crews will replace iron pipes and clay sewer lines at the top of Altawana Drive, requiring the closure of intersections with Seventh and Eight streets. At the same time, the nearby retaining wall will be addressed. Repaving of the length will happen later on, likely with alternating lanes available.

“It’s going to require patience, and we’ll try to finish as quickly at possible,” said Bohan, who said a detour plan is being developed.

Among other substantial projects:

– Storm sewer re-lining will take place throughout the River Flats this summer with crews installing epoxy support the length of pipes to extend their lifespan without excavation;

– The road milling overlay program will include a long section on Dunmore Road, from Seven Persons Creek to Southview Drive;

– Water main and sewer line work on Eighth Street SE will include road surfacing and the addition of two traffic-calming roundabouts promised last year;

– Relatively minor utility upgrades at Maple Avenue and First Street could require some lane closures, aside from regular bridge maintenance.

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