Business owner fears 'pretty bleak' future as roundabout construction begins on County Road 42

Owners of two local businesses are worried as construction of a roundabout at the intersection of County Road 42 and County 43 in Tecumseh is set to start on Monday.

The County of Essex says County Road 42 will be closed for three months in both directions with local access only to residents and businesses beginning Monday from County Road 43 (Banwell Road) to Lauzon Road.

Work to be completed include construction of the roundabout and re-alignment of County Road 43 from the City of Windsor boundary to County Road 42.

But Lorraine McCann, owner of The Whistling Kettle is worried the work could take much longer, potentially putting her 35-year-old business on the line.

"It's going to bring our sales down a hundred per cent," McCann told CBC News. "It will be pretty bleak for us."

"People coming from Windsor won't be able to come because people don't like to go out of their comfort zone and going into a different direction. Some people don't know how to go a different way and they'll just go somewhere else."

The restaurant owner said businesses have been struggling to get back to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels, and "we need all the business that we can get."

Mayor Hilda MacDonald
Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald said people should 'plan ahead' and figure out alternative routes ahead of time. (CBC)

The county has described the project as a significant step toward the enhancement of the County Road 42 corridor between the City of Windsor border and County Road 19.

"County Road 42 and County Road 43 are critical connections to our new regional hospital site and the NextStar Energy electric vehicle plant," said Essex County Warden Hilda McDonald in a press release.

Also to be completed are improvements to Tecumseh Concession Road 11, the installation of new storm sewers and water mains, and the addition of multi-use trails.

'Compensate the people': business owner

Manjinder Kooner, owner of Kooner's Auto Service, says his business has been in the area for about five years.

He said all of the businesses in the area will be impacted, and the town should compensate owners for their losses.

"It's a main artery and … if you're cutting this part off … you're just being bypassed, completely avoided, there's no business really," Kooner said.

Kooner said the last time there was major construction work in his area his car sales totally dried up and he's worried the same thing will happen again. This time, he's also preparing to bring on another worker, to keep the cars clean of construction dust.

"The city has to somehow compensate the people," he said.

Manjinder Kooner, owner of Kooner's Auto Service.
Manjinder Kooner, owner of Kooner's Auto Service. (Jennifer La Grassa/CBC)

But MacDonald said supporting businesses financially during the construction is not something that the town can do, noting "that's considered bonusing." She said the town will assist by putting up signs to let people know that businesses are still open.

Plan ahead, says Essex County warden

MacDonald said people should "plan ahead" and figure out alternative routes ahead of time.

"There will be signage, of course, but to wait until you're going to work and to follow those signs might get you to work a little bit late on Monday," MacDonald told CBC News. "So, plan out a route ahead of time."

"I know that construction is a bit of a hot, picky point with people, but we have limited months that we can do this kind of work and we need to do it when we can do it. We want roads to be safe and we want them to be efficient and easy to travel. It's like no pain, no gain. We have to do this," she added.

Motorists should avoid area

But the county is advising motorists they should avoid the area or anticipate increased traffic congestion.

The construction of the roundabout and other enhancements at the County Road 42 and County Road 43 intersection are Phase 2 of the reconstruction of the corridor between the City of Windsor boundary and County Road 19.

The multi-year project will increase road capacity and enhance neighbourhood connectivity in the area, the town says.

Essex County director of infrastructure and planning services Allan Botham commended the Town of Tecumseh and Municipality of Lakeshore for their cooperation and collaboration.

"We appreciate everyone's patience during the roundabout construction and look forward to completing a major enhancement to this intersection," Botham said.

The contract for construction of Phase 2 of the project has been awarded to Green Infrastructure Partners for $22 million.

Phase 1, which involved utility relocation and construction of new storm and sanitary sewers, was completed in 2023. The estimated cost of the entire project is $90 million to $100 million, according to the town.