Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why revitalize Beckwith Street?
The municipality is committed to developing a safer, more accommodating downtown. The water and sewer pipes that run beneath Beckwith Street have long surpassed their useful life (some of the pipes were installed in the late 1800’s). The surface of Beckwith Street is also deteriorating rapidly and maintenance costs will escalate significantly if left unattended. The town must also make improvements by 2025 to meet the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
Q. When will construction start?
Construction will begin work on the lower portion of Beckwith Street — between Chambers and Main Street – beginning as early as October 7. The work taking place in 2019 will be focused on the installation of new water and sewer mains in the east side of the street. Constructions will pause once winter weather approaches. It will resume again in March 2020, weather permitting.
Q. Who will complete the work?
Following an endorsement by Town Council on September 3, 2019, the Town of Smiths Falls awarded a contract to Ottawa Greenbelt Construction Company Ltd. (known as R.W. Tomlinson) for Phase I of the Beckwith Street Revitalization Project.
Q. What does Phase One of the project entail?
Phase One includes construction below and above ground between Chambers Street and Russell Street. Underground, it includes the replacement of turn of the century water and sewer infrastructure along with the separation of combined sewer systems. It also includes the construction of a newly separated storm drainage trunk system.
Above ground, the project includes a complete modernization of approximately 320 metres of roadway. This includes full reconstruction of three travel lanes, two parallel parking lanes, three new traffic signal replacements meeting the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, a new pedestrian cross-over, newly upgraded LED street lighting, sidewalks and various streetscape features. The street will also be adding a newly configured cycle-track meeting the objectives for a complete street design.
Q. What’s the project budget, and where will the funding come from?
Phase One of the project is expected to cost approximately $8.2 million.
The Town has received funding covering approximately $5.4 million (nearly 66% of forecasted costs.) Funding for the project comes from various sources, including the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund and the province’s Connecting Links 2019-2020 program, to name a few.
The remaining 34% will be provided by the Town of Smiths Falls, and is forecasted to fall within the 2020 fiscal year based on anticipated progress.
For a full funding breakdown, please review the report presented to the Committee of the Whole on August 26.
Q. How will the construction affect traffic downtown?
Beckwith Street will be open for southbound traffic through the three blocks of the construction zone. All other northbound traffic flowing across the bridge will be detoured onto Chambers Street and ultimately to Elmsley Street. Additional detours will be in place for Jasper Avenue, Old Slys Road and Queen Street to accommodate large commercial truck traffic heading northbound.
Q. Will I still be able to park on the street downtown?
There will be no parking on Beckwith Street within the construction zone. Removing the parking is a critical part of ensuring the Contractor receives the needed space to carry out the work in an efficient manner. All on-street parking will be available on each of the side streets as usual. Public parking lots will also be available on Market Street and Main Street West within a block of the construction zone.
Q. How is curbside garbage and recycling handled during construction?
Curbside waste and recycling pick-ups will generally not change during construction. All property owners will be required to set out materials at the curbside for 7 am each morning in order to ensure collection service. The Contractor will round up all curbside materials and take them to a convenient location for collection by the Town’s curbside collection provider. Owners are asked to please label their blue and yellow boxes with your civic address number so the Contractor knows how to get them back to you.
Q. Will there be service interruptions during construction?
Some temporary interruptions in water and wastewater services will occur throughout construction however the Town and the Contractor will take all reasonable efforts to keep these impacts to a minimum. Special considerations will be made for sensitive businesses that serve food as well as other establishments that rely heavily on water like hair salons.
Q. How do businesses get deliveries during construction?
The Contractor will work with individual businesses to help facilitate loading needs during construction. Where possible, businesses should communicate their loading/unloading practices to the Town prior to construction. Help the Town understand your general needs by sharing details on your operations. What size of trucks provide deliveries for your business? How often do they serve you and where do they generally park? Are the deliveries provided at a specific time of day?
Q. Will access be blocked to businesses during construction?
The Contractor will be required to develop a pedestrian management plan that will provide quality access to local businesses throughout construction. However, there may be a period of disruption for several hours when sidewalks are poured during the late phases of the project. The Town and the Contractor will be working closely with local businesses prior to scheduling those activities.
Q. Once construction is complete, how many on street parking stalls will there be compared to the angle parking arrangement?
There are currently 120 parking stalls on Beckwith Street between Chambers and Elmsley. The current yield cannot be replicated because parking spaces need to meet minimum setbacks from traffic signals and pedestrian crossings. New accessibility requirements will also mean larger spaces are needed to serve accessible vehicles with rear deploying ramps / lift mechanisms. The goal is to maximize parking, and it is expected there will still be parking capacity for 101 vehicles. There are also opportunities to create new parking stalls on several intersecting streets to minimize the overall reduction – this will be pursued to its full potential in the future.
Q. What are “complete streets”?
Complete Streets are streets that are designed to be safe for everyone: people who walk, bike, or drive, and people of all ages and abilities. They also consider other uses like sidewalk cafés, street furniture, street trees, utilities, stormwater management, and many other uses.
Q. Will the complete streets design make the downtown more accessible for people using assistive devices (wheelchairs, walkers, canes, etc)?
Yes. The design reduces the barrier that presently exists between regular parking stalls and the sidewalk. The new design provides improved access from the parking lane to the cycle lane then to the sidewalk. The extra parallel parking lane width will make it easier for lift equipped vehicles to deploy a side ramp or maneuver an assistive device out of or into their vehicle. Additional designated spaces will also be provided in each block that will allow increased opportunities for vehicles that deploy accessible equipment from the rear.
Q. What is the point of having cycling lanes that start and finish downtown?
The Beckwith Street revitalization presents the perfect opportunity to install cycling lanes in the more intense section of downtown. The cycling network can be expanded over time with either dedicated lanes or shared use lanes to meet the Town’s long-term objectives for active transportation as confirmed in the town’s 2019-22 Strategic Plan. The Beckwith redesign will serve our community for decades.
Q. Was the public consulted on this project?
Discussions with the outside community started on this project back in September 2017.The town hosted open-houses with the public, as well as a number of working groups with stakeholders, engagement with the Downtown Business Association and the Chamber of Commerce, and a number of updates and discussions at Town Council.
The Town is committed to continue working with local residents, businesses, stakeholders and community groups throughout the construction project, and will be hosting a “Meet the Contractor night” this fall. The Town will also be posting regular updates online and on social media.
Q. Where can I find out more information about the project?
The project webpage is your go-to for background information about the project, notices, updates and more. The Town will also be using social media, particularly Facebook, to communicate developments in the project.
Questions posed by DBA members at Meet the Contractor Night
Q. What will happen to the rain water during construction? Will it go directly into the Rideau waterway? Will it be treated?
Rain water on Beckwith Street currently drains into catch basins that are tied to the sanitary sewer system. This water is then directed to Town’s sewage treatment plant where it is pumped and treated (at a cost) before being directed to the Rideau River. Once construction is complete and the new storm sewers are in place, surface drainage will be directed to a storm water treatment unit at the bottom of Beckwith Street. This treatment unit removes sediments and floating oils (hydrocarbons) before run-off is discharged into the Rideau River. The storm water treatment unit and outfall were already constructed in 2017 as part of the Stone Arch Bridge project and were fully funded by provincial grants.
Q. Currently, storm water flows down Beckwith Street and collects onto Chambers Street. How will the water be redirected?
Concrete gutters will be installed along the edge of the travel lanes and will direct surface water drainage to the new storm drainage catch basins. Extra drainage inlets will be included as part of current drainage design standards.
Q. What types of trees are being planted? Can we consider dwarf fruit trees that we can then harvest the fruit to donate to the food bank?
Tree planting concepts followed the design guidance of the 2013 Downtown Revitalization and Waterfront Integration Master Plan. This plan recommended that hardy native species be used or other salt-tolerant, high branching deciduous varieties. Lashley + Associates Landscape Architects have done a review to consider species that can withstand the weather and the environment, as well as scale and aesthetic. The trees that are compatible with the downtown vision include varieties such as: celebration maple, redpointe maple, princeton sentry maidenhair tree, thornless honeylocust, little leaf linden, princeton elm, and valley forge elm.
Q. What is the budget for trees? How will they be planted? What care will be taken to support the tree longevity?
Trees on Beckwith Street will be planted in soil pits that are approximately 3 feet wide, 6 feet long and 2 feet deep. Each of the 32 tree pits includes a deep root watering system that allows water to be introduced at the surface and channelled deep down to the root mass through drains in the pit. The tree pit concept follows the design guidance of the 2013 Downtown Revitalization and Waterfront Integration Master Plan by encouraging alternative irrigation methods and water conservation strategies. The tree installations cost approximately $800 each and include the supply of trees from an approved nursery, excavation, planting, topsoil mulch, fertilizer, staking and a 2 year warranty. Watering is also included during the warranty period as part of the price and includes 12 watering events in each of the two years between May 15th and Sept 15th. In the future, it will be encouraged that the trees are pruned as part of a long term maintenance plan to maintain tree health and a balanced canopy for shade. This program will be developed in consultation with the Downtown Business Association.
Q. What will the contractor do with the old asphalt and fill? Will this be recycled?
Tomlinson will take the old asphalt and fill to their quarry and separate elements that can be reused again as temporary asphalt at other construction projects.
Q. After the first block is completed, when will construction on the remaining blocks take place?
Construction on the remainder of the project is expected to begin in the spring of 2020, weather dependent, with a tentative fall 2020 completion date.
Q. Where can I learn more about road closures and detours?
The website will contain up-to-date information on the project and road closures. Detour maps are available on the Announcements and Updates Page.
Q. How much notice will downtown businesses and residents receive in advance of water interruption?
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, businesses and residents will be notified 48 hours in advance of water interruption.
Q. Is there interlocking brick going in? What is the longevity of this material?
Interlock bricks will be located on the sidewalk and on the center islands, but not in areas subjected to regular vehicle traffic. The previous design had contemplated interlock treatments in the center of the intersections at Main and Russell however those features were removed due to matters of affordability as part of the negotiated contract changes. Roadway asphalts typically need to be rehabilitated with new wear surfaces after 25 years. That would be the point in time when localized interlock repairs would be initiated (if necessary) on the corridor.