A major road reconstruction project in Virgil is progressing – another section of asphalt base was put down this week – but area businesses and customers are getting tired of the seemingly never-ending disruption.
Since February, the busy Niagara Stone Road has been overtaken by orange tape and heavy trucks, restricting access to store parking lots and building entrances.
Road dust, potholes and a slow, bumpy ride are also common complaints.
The $10-million project is mainly funded by the Region of Niagara, though the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is spending about $1.4 million on landscaping.
The work includes new storm sewers, a middle lane for left-turning vehicles from Four Mile Creek to Line 1, plus new signals, sidewalks, crosswalks, overhead lighting and landscaping features.
Meanwhile, for Virgil businesses, the disruption means fewer customers and less revenue coming in.
Martin Mazza, owner of Italian Pizza & Subs, said he’s seen a big downturn in business due to the disturbance.
“I consider this year number four of COVID, as far as sales go,” he said.
Mazza told The Lake Report his phone line, water line and gas line were all cut multiple times during the construction.
His phone line went down three times in one week, he said.
The road work “just adds to the traffic, which is making it more frustrating for the people that are forced to drive through this every day,” Mazza said.
Reached on Wednesday after the paving began, Mazza said he felt grateful to see some progress.
He had a chance to drive along the new asphalt today and said it looked good.
Two coats of the base coat were completed today.
“Progress is being made, as long as there’s progress being made, I’m happy,” he said.
He said that the “proof is in the asphalt.”
Other businesses along Niagara Stone Road are having similar experiences.
“It’s been going on for six months, so it’s obviously making an impact,” said Silks restaurant owner Joel Dempsey.
“Some days when they’re working out front, the parking lot access is closed. If you know how to get around back then that’s great. But if you don’t, then you can’t really come in.”
“We really have no choice but to suck it up,” said Dempsey.
Avondale employee Melissa Overend said she has not seen some regular customers in months because of the lack of accessibility to the store.
It definitely affects business during the day, especially when there are trucks parked right in front of the driveway, she said.
Town of NOTL spokesperson Marah Minor said the municipality is “committed to supporting these local businesses by actively communicating their operational status to customers who inquire, ensuring they are aware that the businesses remain open.”