Big Dig Phase Two

Big Dig, Phase 2, Princess StreetTwo years ago, Kingstonians endured phase one of the big dig, a massive construction project to replace aging sewer infrastructure and utilities below Princess Street, from the intersection at King all the way down to the waterfront. The massive $4 million upgrade included a serious facelift to the renovated section of downtown Kingston, providing granite curbs and flower boxes, as well as new street lighting, benches and bicycle racks.  All in all, these aesthetic and functional upgrades have created a modern streetscape, which respects and blends in with its historical surroundings.  With phase two of the big dig set to start next week, Princess Street between King and Bagot will soon become a massive construction zone.  City officials such as Jim Keech, CEO of Utilities Kingston, have already warned that Princess Street will “look like a war zone” from now until the grand re-opening on June 29th.  Accordingly, this week’s poll asks:
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Few would argue that the Princess Street renovations are unnecessary.  The multi-phase project was conceived to replace aging sewers that were originally built and installed in the 1800s, while these had a nagging tendency of failing during heavy rain storms.  “You can’t maintain these things, but they’re operational,” remarked Mark Campbell, the city engineer who oversaw phase one of the Princess Street project.  Similar to what we experienced during phase one reconstruction, this phase will close down a two-block section of Princess and create detours for vehicles, while local businesses will remain open.  The $6.5 million undertaking is not without controversy, as businesses such as Tara Foods have criticized pedestrian-oriented design elements that create new double-wide sidewalks, which take away precious parking for customers and deter easy access for delivery trucks.

What strategies for getting around downtown Kingston did you learn during phase one?  How much of an inconvenience do you think reconstruction efforts will be for local merchants, residents and consumers?  Finally, how optimistic are you that the project will be completed on time and on budget?

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

8 thoughts on “Big Dig Phase Two

  • While all of the things listed in this poll are unfortunate inconveniences, they are all a part of a project that I see as very necessary. It'll be a pain for a while, but totally worth it.

  • No doubt that the upgrades are needed.
    Only, will stores and restaurants survive?
    This Big Dig 2 could mark the end of downtown Kingston.

    • That's a bit much, don't you think? I can't recall any businesses closing up shop as a result of phase one – name one. If any businesses close during/after phase two, I think construction was simply the final nail in the coffin and not the ultimate cause.

      • Sir Gawain, though the hotel collapse was also part of that.

        The owner of Tara foresees some issues regarding delivery – due to the widening of the sidewalk, trucks won't be able to park in front and he doesn't have a rear delivery option, meaning he'd have to transport goods up the sidewalk.

        It seems like a legitimate concern.

        • If I'm not mistaken, the Owners of Sir Gawain opened up a new shop right across the street…Chris James. Was this a result of the construction? Or plans that were already in the works? Like Harvey said, it might have been the final nail in the coffin.

          Unfortunately, reconstruction is timely and a nuisance to everyone – but it is a necessity. Failure to keep up with aging infrastructure will cost more money down the road. And then the business owners would have something to really complain about.

  • Necessary renovation of infrastructure – good.
    Further reducing downtown parking – bad.
    They're two separate issues, deserving more than a shrugged-off "meh, final nail in the coffin; not my problem," as one looks at the growing number of closed businesses. Similarly, what's the value of having a bicycle lane down Princess from Bath Rd….if all the businesses have moved away from downtown.

    • I think your comment re: bike lanes is a really good point. Wider sidewalks may be great for pedestrians and they obviously impact parking, but they also leave little room for bike lanes along lower Princess Street. It`s six of one, half dozen of another with some of these sustainable measures. I guess I would prefer to have more pedestrian-oriented features along Princess than promotion of cycling.

    • I would go further to say "further reducing DT parking" is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS, OMG give us some politicians and city planners who can make Kington a great"er" place without hurting US who pay taxes – we WORK downtown too

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