The commute along Front Street in Orillia will be slower than usual for the next five months as a major construction project is now underway.

Construction crews have started the first phase of a two-year project, with the work taking place between Colborne Street East and Queen Street East.

“The reconstruction of Front Street is the first step in several key projects over the next few years to help revitalize the downtown waterfront area and prepare for future growth,” said Mayor Steve Clarke. “We look forward to the improvements this project will bring to the Front Street corridor.”

The $6.5 million project includes reconstructing Front Street to a three-lane urban cross-section from Laclie Street to King Street and a four-lane urban cross-section from King Street to Queen Street East.

Front St. reconstruction map, Orillia

“By reducing the lanes we’re creating wider pedestrian walkways, more boulevards with landscaping opportunities and a more pedestrian-friendly area and a more welcoming downtown core,” said Wesley Cyr, manager of engineering and transportation. “We are adding intelligent signals to help us with traffic flow.”

According to the city, approximately 16,000 vehicles travel Front Street daily.

“The road is very rough and definitely needed to be redone, but I think it was great the way it was with four lanes, so we’ll see how it goes,” said Julius Kostur who co-owns the Orillia Baker and Deli.

The existing trunk sanitary sewer is being relocated from the waterfront area to Front Street to eliminate design and future development constraints for Centennial Drive and the overall waterfront area.

A minimum of one lane will remain accessible throughout the construction, and all businesses in the area will be open.

Front St. Orillia

The development will affect Orillia Transit with the South Route not running on Front Street between Colborne Street and Gill Street.

The first phase of construction is expected to be complete in October.

For more information on the project, click here.