Two parts of Petrolia Line to be rebuilt this summer town officials say

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About half of Petrolia Line will be rebuilt this summer.

That’s just one of the details which have been ironed out about how the reconstruction of Petrolia Line will unfold.

The Town of Petrolia recently received a $2 million grant for the $4.7 million project from the province and have kicked the planning for the two-year project into high gear. Town employees met with Lambton County officials recently to get a better idea of how the construction will move ahead.

Director of Operations Mike Thompson says construction will likely start at Bridgeview Park to Oil Street at the end of June. That phase of construction is expected to take about three weeks.

There was some concern the bank there might need to be reinforced, but Thompson says engineering reports show the bank is stable so the additional work won’t be needed. The contractor will take steps to protect the bank, narrowing the road by about one meter.

Thompson says the second phase of the 2015 portion of construction will be from Oil Street to Fletcher Street near the Petrolia Library. That work will be more extensive because there are more underground services to replace.

Thompson expects that work will be complete before Thanksgiving, allowing the street to be open through the Christmas shopping season.

Whether the completed section will be paved over the winter depends mostly on the pace of construction and the weather.

Thompson says doing the work in phases gives better access to downtown merchants who are concerned the prolonged construction will hurt business.

And he says it isn’t necessary to shutdown the entire street. “We don’t want street closed with no work going on,” Thompson told council during the education session Monday afternoon.

Instead, Thompson says they’re breaking the project into smaller manageable pieces to keep traffic flowing in and around the downtown.

Town staff is also working with the county – which will be responsible for resurfacing the road and putting in new curbs and gutters – on detour routes and the signage which will send people into the downtown via Discovery Line.

And staff is putting together a communications plan for businesses. At Monday’s meeting, councilors approved the hiring of a business owners’ liaison – current Volunteer Business Group head Denise Thibeault – to help downtown business owners throughout the construction.

Chief Operating Officer Manny Baron says $100,000 has been set aside for communication, marketing and special programs during construction. “We will have a website specifically devoted to it – tied to the town’s site,” says Laurissa Ellsworth, manager of marketing for the town. “We’ll set up additional social media sites – Facebook and Twitter – so there is a constant conversation about the construction,” she told councilors during Monday’s education session.

“We’ll also be implementing different promotions to get people to shop in Petrolia.”

Ellsworth is also producing a construction guide for business owners which will provide all the details of the project including timelines, costs and where to go to get more information or who to call if there is a problem.

The marketing manager is hopeful with Thibeault on the street answering questions and lots of information on line, merchants will see more shoppers through the door than anticipated.