Nearly two years after work began, Mayor Walter Gray cut the ribbon Friday afternoon to officially reopen Kelowna's main street.
The $14-million improvements saw four lanes narrowed into two plus a centre turning lane, expanded outdoor retail and cafe space, widened sidewalks for pedestrians, new street furniture, new landscaping and replaced utilities.
"This project was one of the first to be realized out of the downtown plan," said Gray. "It has become a catalyst to improving our downtown."
The mayor added that he believes "it is truly happening downtown" with new parkades, an expanded Stuart Park, $5.6-million investment into the transit exchange and private developments like the public pier and the Kelowna Yacht clubhouse, among other proposed projects.
Dustin Sargent of the Downtown Kelowna Association said he is excited to have the street completed.
"Thank you to all the people involved, from the contractor to the City, to the businesses that made this process the best it could be," he said.
Residents are encouraged to discover the new Bernard Avenue and share photos on the city's Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram tagged with #BernardSelfie to be entered to win a pair of tickets to tribute band 'God Save the Queen."
Visit kelowna.ca/cityprojects to learn more about everything happening downtown and elsewhere in Kelowna.
Beginning Tuesday, May 27 at 7 a.m. Bernard Avenue from St. Paul to Pandosy streets, including the Ellis and Pandosy intersections, will be closed until Wednesday, May 28 at 6 p.m. to thru traffic for top lift paving.
This schedule is subject to change, as paving is weather dependant and precipitation could cause delays.
Sidewalks will remain open and businesses will remain accessible. The truck route will be rerouted temporarily to Gordon Drive.
Traffic control personnel will be directing motorists and pedestrians. The public’s cooperation and patience during this final paving is appreciated.
All transit routes into and out of the Queensway transit station will continue as usual, with minor downtown routing adjustments.
It is anticipated that the reopening of Bernard Avenue in its entirety will be after 4 p.m. on Friday, May 30.
Early and most likely under budget.
The Bernard Avenue revitalization project, which began after Labour Day of 2012, will be complete and open before the end of May - one full month ahead of schedule.
According to Design and Construction Director, Bill Berry, the heavy lifting is done.
Now, it's just the little things.
A few lights still need to be fully installed, some concrete work has to be completed and a bit of hardware is left to install.
After that it's site clean-up and the official ribbon cutting.
While a date hasn't been determined yet, Berry expects that to be sometime during the final week of May.
The revitalization project was originally scheduled to span three phases beginning in September of 2012.
Construction was slated to avoid summer construction time and be complete by December of last year.
That timeline was bumped back after a strike by FortisBC last fall meant certain work on phase three couldn't be done.
That work was done this year during phase 3A which encompassed work between Pandosy and Ellis streets.
As for the cost, Berry says it won't be fully determined until after all the bills come in, but he says it is feasible the project could come in slightly under the $14M budget.
Weather - more specifically rain - will determine whether the final phase of the Bernard Avenue Revitalization project will finish ahead of schedule.
The $14.3M utility replacement and beautification project has been undertaken in phases starting back in September, 2012.
The final phase, between Pandosy and Ellis streets, is scheduled for completion in early June.
"We will be done on scheduled which means we'll be done in June," says Design and Construction Director Bill Berry.
"It's just that if the weather really opened up and we got good weather there is a chance we could be done a week or two early. It's really hard to predict now because you don't know how it's going to turn out."
Berry says the rain obviously halts both the pouring of concrete and laying of asphalt.
"They can do a lot of the other things. They can put down benches and things like that, but we have to get the concrete down first," says Berry.
"Then they put down all the paver blocks a piece at a time and once those are all down you can put up the street lights. There actually is a bit of work left to go, but once the concrete is done and finished that allows us to start working on the small stuff."
As for the roadwork itself Berry says the top lift of pavement from Pandosy to St. Paul still has to be done.
The first layer of paving is underway on the final phase of Bernard Avenue which marks the completion of utilities and the commencement of streetscaping and landscaping work.
This will be your last chance to walk in the middle of the road when walkways temporarily shift from next to the buildings onto the middle of the newly paved road for the final time.
Businesses are open as usual and accessible with corridors from the center of the road to each business entrance, minimizing disruption to pedestrians and business accesses while allowing for the removal and reconstruction of the sidewalks.
“The water main and storm systems are now complete and we are looking forward to the sidewalk construction and proceeding to the final steps of the project,” said Bill Berry, Design & Construction Services Director.
“New trees, benches and the installation of the last light standards will complete the consistent look of Bernard Avenue from the Sails to the Gateway at Richter Street.”
The $14-million improvements will see four lanes narrowed into two lanes and a centre turning lane, expanded outdoor retail and cafe space, wider sidewalks for pedestrians, street furniture, intersection plazas, landscaping and replacing of utilities.
Final paving, finishing work and permanent road markings of the previous phase between St. Paul and Ellis streets will occur this spring in conjunction with completion of the current phase between Ellis and Water streets, scheduled for June 2014.
“If you haven’t seen the construction downtown you’ve got to stop by, visit your favorite business and check out how things are constructed before it’s all done,” said Berry. “It’s really an attraction in itself.”
The Downtown Kelowna Association is running the Great-Big-Bernard-Giveaway Contest with a $500 prize drawn every three weeks. Visit Downtownkelowna.com for more details.
Read more Bernard Ave. Revitalization articles
Time Lapse Video: City of Kelowna
- Bernard Ave - the final phase Feb 21
- New gateway points to downtown Nov 26
- Bernard Ave. reopening a month early Nov 7
- 7 month delay in Bernard completion Sep 3
- Bernard Avenue closed for streetscaping Aug 31
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