The finishing touches are done, and Huntsville’s Diggin’ Downtown construction has finally come to an end.
Officials from the town and the District of Muskoka celebrated the end of the lengthy project Tuesday, with a ribbon cutting across from Town Hall.
The project started in March of 2021, with the goal of replacing underground sewer and water infrastructure under Main St. one stage at a time. It also came with a visual and structural overhaul of sidewalks, landscaping, and other features in the downtown core.
Mark Misko, Director of Engineering and Transportation for the district, says the project was not without its challenges, but he’s proud of the end result.
“We tried to accelerate it as much as we could, knowing we were impacting essentially the entire downtown core at some point with this construction,” says Misko. “Tried to keep our deadlines as tight as possible, and I think we did a great job doing that. We came out about a month later than we wanted to, but on a two-year project of construction, I think that’s a pretty substantial accomplishment.”
Misko says there were a number of lessons learned during the project, which can be applied in planned streetscape work in Bracebridge and Gravenhurst. One of those was figuring out how to connect uneven and historic water fittings to the modern system. Another, he says, was checking in with utility companies more frequently, as a last-minute notice from a telecom company meant they had to fully close Centre St. and Main.
Tarmo Uukkivi, Huntsville’s Director of Operations and Protective Services, says although he took on his role about halfway through the project, a good team meant he was able to hit the ground running.
“The path was paved for me all the way through, the team was very well prepared, brought me up to speed very, very quickly,” says Uukkivi. “That’s a testament to the work they do here every day. This project, while it’s a very large one and it’s a beautiful outcome for the Town of Huntsville, is not the only thing that the team does here. Really, truly, this is the effort they put in every day.”
Uukkivi also thanked downtown residents and the Downtown Huntsville BIA, for their patience and collaboration through the project.
He adds that any future streetscape work in town will “take on a similar look and feel” to Main St., to give the impression of a “continuous urban core.”