05 July 2018 0 Comments Posted By : Cory Correia

Vancouver business owners, residents concerned over closure of East 1st Avenue

FortisBC is asking for the patience of people living, working and travelling along Vancouver's East 1st Avenue as it closes a busy stretch of the thoroughfare for gas line construction. 

The road is now closed in both directions from Nanaimo Street to Clark Drive until Aug. 31.

Partial lane closures from Rupert Street to Nanaimo Street had already been in place since late April, but now that part of that road is fully closed, some business owners and residents in the area are upset. 

"What this does is it adds to all the traffic issues we already have in Grandview-Woodland, and it exacerbates them," said area resident, Schula Leonard.

Leonard says there has been a spike in traffic through neighbourhoods as people cut through side streets. 

"No one following their GPS cares about a sign that says 'local traffic only,' not really," Leonard said.

FortisBC says it will advise the public about traffic impacts around the project through signage, radio broadcasts, email updates, social media and public information sessions. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

FortisBC says it does not want drivers cutting though side streets, and is working with the City of Vancouver to mitigate the issue. 

"One of the ways we're doing that is by putting local-traffic-only signage in the area, and speed-reader boards. And we're also working with the Vancouver Police Department and the City of Vancouver to have people out enforcing the rules of the road," said Grace Pickell of FortisBC. 

FortisBC says a full closure of the avenue was necessary so that their crews could have a wide enough workspace to work safely, while also minimizing construction time.

The work will replace part of a 60-year-old natural-gas line that runs 20 kilometres from Vancouver to Coquitlam, B.C.

Sales slowdown

While the east-west artery is closed in both directions, major routes that traverse it, including Commercial Drive, Clark Drive and Nanaimo Street, will stay open. However, some businesses owners have already noticed a sales slowdown. 

Artem Voropaev, owner of Pacific Laptop at East 1st and Nanaimo, says he's worried about losing business as construction drives potential customers to other computer shops downtown that aren't affected by road closures.

"I hope for the best, but it's going to be even worse because it affected our business even with the partial closures," he said.

"I was trying to tell all my customers in advance that we're going to be open during the construction. Maybe I will spend a little bit more money on an advertisement on Google just to bring in more customers during the time."

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