Soon, the multi-year construction project in the core of Uptown Waterloo will be complete.
The last phase of construction of this streetscape improvement project will be happening over the next eight weeks. This will compose of building bike lanes and a decorative amenity space. The construction will be happening on King Street, from the Uptown public square to Bridgeport Road. It will occur in phases to least disturb traffic flow.
The project started ten years ago, when the Uptown Waterloo Business Improvement Area (BIA) requested for improvement in the lighting structures. From this, it evolved into what it is today: a project designed to improve transportation options, economic development of the Uptown core, its aesthetics, and to align with the ION light rail project.
“It’s really meeting the current needs that we see out there today,” Eric Saunderson, senior project manager, said.
Through an environmental assessment, which involves an extensive public consultation process, Saunderson said that the city was able to find the best design: to reduce the traffic lanes from four to two, allowing them to widen the sidewalks and install bike lanes.
“One of the design objectives was to create an environment that was catering to all modes of transportation. There’s pedestrians, cycling, auto and transit. We really wanted to have a balanced design,” Saunderson said.
The bike lanes are separated bike lanes, which Saunderson hopes will encourage people to choose biking as a safe form of transit. “We would probably encourage more cyclists to choose an alternate mode of transportation if they felt more comfortable,” he said.
A protected intersection is to be built at King-Erb. “Essentially what…[a protected intersection] means is that the bike lanes will bend away from the intersection that you approach… away from traffic, and the crossing will be with pedestrian crosswalks.”
Another component of the construction this summer is the amenity space. New trees will be planted, and ‘thematic lights’ will encircle them. “[They are] stainless steel structures with a ring at the top that goes around the trees, and provides some protection for the trees. As well, it provides this illuminated lighting structure that can be fully programmable at any time of the year,” Saunderson said.
Saunderson thinks that it will contribute to tourism, entertainment, and after hour activities. “The Uptown is successful to begin with, and this is just going to further complement it,” he said.
The construction on King Street will likely continue over the next few years. “This phase of the project is just one part of a much larger plan… [We] could potentially continue up to the University Avenue intersection over the next few year period… We will be starting north of Bridgeport in 2019, and then up to University Ave in 2020,” Saunderson said.