EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to include a response from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is checking to see if it can delay repairs to the Hwy. 17A overpass till after Christmas, following an outcry Wednesday from Delta businesses.
“The ministry appreciates concerns raised by the Delta Chamber of Commerce and is currently examining its options to see if a delay to repairs is feasible. We will communicate any changes to schedule soon,” the ministry said late Wednesday night in an email to the Optimist.
Repairs to the overpass were supposed to start today (Thursday), and continue for two months, requiring the closure of southbound lanes of the overpass across Hwy. 99.
The overpass was badly damaged July 18 after an over height truck smashed into the south end of the overpass, creating $1.4 million in damage.
“While the Delta Chamber recognizes the prioritization and expediency dedicated to this repair, the scheduled timing will cause significant, negative impacts on businesses in Ladner, Tilbury and the surrounding region,” Rosanne Horner, chair of the Delta Chamber of Commerce board of directors, said in a letter to MOTI minister Rob Fleming.
“With CEBA (Canada Emergency Business Account) loan repayments due on Jan. 18 … to qualify for the forgivable portion, it is imperative that small businesses are equipped with every opportunity for success this calendar year.”
Restaurant and beverage holiday bookings will be cancelled or moved, while detours will direct shoppers to stores outside Delta, Horner said, as well, health care providers, manufacturing and distribution also will be affected financially.
Horner notes that the ministry has consulted with the city, first responders, HUB cycling, and TransLink, but not the business community.
Delaying the project start to Jan. 2 also will allow time for a coordinated communication strategy and to prepare alternative TransLink routes, Horner said.
At Primerose Greek Restaurant, near the Cascades Casino, owner Sia Adjudani wrote to Fleming saying, “… the timing is terrible as it looks like the entire southbound lanes will once again be closed for approximately eight weeks and by starting the repairs on Nov. 9, we lose our busiest month of the year!”
He said that 80 per cent of his customers come from Ladner or Tsawwassen and that when the southbound lane was closed in the summer after the crash, customers didn’t show up.
Adjudani said the restaurant lost thousands of dollars from July to September until a southbound lane was opened.
He also wants the repairs delayed until January or February, “to save our holiday season,” and has contacted other businesses nearby.
“We absolutely cannot take another hit like we did in the summer time, and also coming out of COVID, and if our December is wiped clean because of this project, I will be forced to look at legal action to recoup our losses from ICBC and the Ministry,” Adjudani said.
At Cascades Casino Delta, guest services and marketing manager Neelam Shankar, said while the repairs are needed, Cascades supports postponing the work until after the holiday season.