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'It’s going to be crazy': Drivers and businesses prepare for reduced lanes at Oxford Street and Highbury Avenue

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Approximately 35,000 vehicles travel through the intersection and Oxford Street East and Highbury Avenue North everyday.

Beginning this week drivers, pedestrians, and nearby residents will need to prepare for significant delays due to the start of construction for phase 3C of the East London Link and Municipal Infrastructure Improvements projects.

“It’s going to be crazy over the next few months,” said Jorge Ulloa, a student at Fanshawe College, just a few hundred metres east of the main intersection.

As a result, there will be lane restrictions in effect on Highbury Avenue North between Oxford Street East and the north limit of the Highbury Avenue North overpass. Reduced lanes will also be in effect along Oxford Street East from just a few metres east of the Highbury Avenue intersection to near Wistow Street.

“You're going to start to see cones and equipment mobilizing on the site,” said Jennie Dann, director of Construction for the City of London. “There'll be one lane of traffic in each direction. So you're going to see those cones there to reduce the lanes down to one but we asked the people, you know, keep moving through. We're going to try to maintain access to businesses as best as possible, but also keep traffic flowing.”

The city said the project is planned until December and are encouraging people to find alternate routes when possible.

Fanshawe College Student Jorge Ulloa Is planning a new route to school after learning of the BRT construction at Oxford Street East and Highbury Avenue North in London, Ont. on Feb. 26, 2024. (Brent Lale/CTV News London)

“We always encourage people to look ahead, plan their route, maybe give themselves a little bit more time,” added Dann. “There will be some delays with traffic being reduced to one lane in each direction, but we remind people [to] zipper merge or maybe find a different route or maybe take a little extra time when [you drive]."

The upcoming construction is going to cause headaches for students at nearby John Paul II Secondary School and Fanshawe College.

“I'm coming from Highbury [Avenue] and it is the fastest way to go to get college,” said Ulloa. “I think I need to wake up a little bit earlier because you know, I need to find out a new way to get there.”

So will patrons and employees at nearby Oxbury Mall.

“This will impact us in a few ways,” said Harman Kaur, an employee at Superior 2-for-1 Pizza in the mall. “Most of our students come by bus, and the transit is going to be impacted. Also our delivery drivers face this problem because sometimes customers, they complain all the time about the late orders, so that's the biggest issue for us.”

A conceptual rendering of the East London Link phase 3C at the Highbury Avenue North and Oxford Street East intersection. (Source: City of London)

Dalton Lindsay is doing some work right now at the mall, and said the commute is going to be a disaster.

“When you're coming through here in the afternoon, it's just stuffed right up,” said Lindsay. “You sit at the lights for about three, three lights and it's not fun. Now it could take you two hours to get from point A to point B.”

The city said wayfinding signs will be installed around the site to help pedestrians navigate through the construction zone, while sidewalk access will be maintained on at least one side of the road at all times during construction.

Some LTC stops along these sections of Highbury Avenue North and Oxford Street East will also be impacted during construction. The city advises transit riders to visit the LTC website for the most up-to-date information.

A map graphic showing the location of upcoming construction work for phase 3C of the East London Link project, starting with section 1 along Highbury Avenue North. Section 2 is planned for later in the spring/summer to complete servicing utilities for the East London Link Phase 3B. (Source: City of London)

According to the city, phase 3C of the East London Link project will be constructed in two sections in order to preserve road access and complete necessary work “as effectively as possible.”

Dann believes this is short-term pain for long-term gain.

“Our rapid transit projects are not only installing new infrastructure above ground, but we're replacing underground services to upgrade our aging infrastructure and also accommodate growth along the corridor,” said Dann. “There's some really big growth and housing potential in this area. So this is a really important project for the city.”

The second section is planned for later in the spring/summer to complete servicing utilities and other off-road works on Highbury Avenue North, south of the overpass and just west of the Dundas Street intersection.

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