Starting in June 2024, aging infrastructure between Gull Lake Rotary Park and the Muskoka Wharf in Gravenhurst will be replaced as part of a three-year project by the District of Muskoka.
Mark Misko, Director of Engineering and Transportation for the district, headed up a meeting at the Residence Inn by Marriott Thursday night.
In recent years, he shared that district staff has noticed little pieces were in disrepair “here and there,” so it was decided now is the time to replace it all. He pointed out the water main break that happened last winter on Bay St. in front of the Muskoka Springs building as a more notable example.
He said the soon-to-be-replaced watermain was installed around 1944, the sewer between ’40 and ’60, the storm sewer in ’60, and the road has had various treatments over the years. “Depending on where you are on that roadway it’s a bit of a different vintage the entire time,” added Misko.
Misko highlighted some of the improvements including:
- A new multi-use trail that will stretch between North Muldrew Lake Rd. to the Farmers’ Market at the Wharf
- “New and improved” parking area at the Market
- Traffic signal and accessibility updates to the Steamship Bay, Muskoka Rd. N. and S., and Bethune intersections
- New pedestrian crosswalk at Sharpe St. and Muskoka Rd. S. near the Gravenhurst Opera House
- New street lights from Cherokee Lane to Greavette St.
He added active transportation – like walking and biking – will be prioritized with paved shoulders, expanded sidewalks, and sharrows. Misko explained a sharrow is another term for a lane that is shared by bicycles and vehicles.
With the first phase of the project slated to start in June 2024, Misko says the plan is for the project to wrap up by 2026. “It’s a comprehensive project,” he said. “There is a lot of work that needs to be done.”
He pointed out that the schedule is not “dialled in” just yet. That will come once a contractor is chosen. He explained district staff will review proposals over the winter and start the bidding process in early 2024 with more opportunities between now, then, and when construction starts for community feedback. He added the district has proposed detours in place, but that could change depending on the yet-to-be-chosen contractor’s preferences.
The meeting was well attended with residents, district, and municipal staffers alike. Notably, most of Gravenhurst council, including Mayor Heidi Lorenz, were on-hand.
Misko said throughout the process the district will push frequent updates through its website and the media, including letting everyone know about detours at least 10 days in advance.
“You won’t be running around trying to find someone in a hard hat because you’ve got concerns about how you’ve got a delivery coming in on Tuesday and you need access,” he continued.
Misko said the district will be expanding its staff specifically for the project to ensure updates are pushed out well ahead of time and that someone has “eyes, ears, boots on the ground” and can serve as a point-of-contact for concerned residents.