Loch Lomond Road in East Saint John is always busy during rush hour, but it's about to get even busier, due to construction starting near Hickey Road.
Starting April 17, the eastbound lane of Loch Lomond will be closed between Hickey Road and Bon Accord Drive for six months. That lane will merge into the centre turning lane, and the lane going in the opposite direction will stay the same.
The construction leaves both business owners and residents scrambling to figure out the best way to weather the concrete storm.
'People will lose their jobs'
Sean Fillmore owns On the Vine, a meat and produce store on the corner of Hickey and Loch Lomond Road. He expects business to slow down, as customers take detours on their way home.
"Any kind of a shutdown where they go to one lane of traffic, where you have a man standing there with a road sign saying, 'Stop and go, stop and go,' it impedes business incredibly," he said.
"It will cut your business in half."
Fillmore suffered from a large decrease in sales last year, when Hickey Road was closed through to traffic for road work that was part of the same project. This year, he says the city has been more proactive in working with businesses to minimize the impact of the roadwork.
A number of business owners have met with representatives of Port City Water Partners to discuss what could be done so that business could go on as smoothly as possible for both groups.
He came out of the meetings satisfied, but acknowledges there will still be some collateral damage.
"Our concern was that the road was going to be closed down and we were all going to feel the effects of trickle down business, which means that people will lose their jobs," he said.
"Last year, we had to lay off a number of people and we haven't come back from that yet."
Wendy Mazerolle lives on Loch Lomond Road, and commutes into the city for work, to drop her kids off at school and to visit with friends almost everyday.
"All directions from my house to the city are going to be congested because of this," she said.
She says the construction will add 25 to 30 minutes to her morning and evening commute, taking her from a 15 to 20 minute drive, closer to an hour.
"Morning traffic alone between the hours of 7:30 [a.m.] and 9:00 [a.m.] is congested as it is," she said. "This is just going to make it that much worse."
The construction is to upgrade the existing water pipes on that road as part of the city's Safe Clean Drinking Water Project.
Construction has been underway for over a year to replace, repair and fix water pipes heading to the new water treatment site at Latimore Lake Road.
The project is expected to be completed by 2018, costing roughly $278 million.
Motorists seeking to avoid the rush hour bottleneck have options when heading into the city if they are travelling in from the area near the Saint John Airport.
First, they could avoid Loch Lomond altogether by taking the Airport Arterial ([St. Martins Road] to Highway 1, and then head into Saint John from there.
Alternatively, they could turn left onto Eldersley Avenue, then right onto Latimer Lake Road before merging onto Hickey and coming out at the end of the area under construction.