Stony Plain Road Business Owner “100 Per Cent Concerned” Over Bridge Closure

The area just west of 124th St. is now essentially a dead space
The missing Stony Plain Road Bridge over Groat Rd.

If you head down Stony Plain Road, just west of the 124 Street intersection, you’ll find Bodega — a place for after-dinner drinks or evening get-togethers over small plates of food. It is a place for people to chat as they have great drinks and eat together.

But co-owner Christian Mena says he is “100 per cent concerned” over the effect LRT construction will have on the business.

As part of the Valley Line West LRT plan, contractors tore down the Stony Plain Road Bridge over Groat Road. They will replace it with a new structure that can support the trains. That work is expected to be done by 2024.

Bodega’s Stony Plain Road location is in between the closed bridge and 124 Street. For residents and businesses in the area, it’s yet another bridge project in the span of less than a decade. In 2013, the Stony Plain Road Bridge was shut down for through most of the spring and summer for $3 million worth of repairs. In 2015 and ’16, the 102 Avenue bridge was down for replacement, a project that was delayed because the girders to support the new structure buckled.

Call the Kettle Black, Harlow and The Bothy Wine & Whisky Bar all closed while the 102 Ave. bridge was down.

For Mena, the bridge shutdown is just another in a series of construction obstacles. He said Bodega has been affected by constant road work and construction in the area over the past several years. Lanes have been shut down for road work. Nearby buildings have been taken down.

“We feel we’ve been under regular duress for three or four years,” Mena said. He said the restaurant has dealt with one project after the next, all of which have reduced access to the restaurant.

Jonathan Gallo, who owns the building that houses Bodega’s Stony Plain Road location, said that it’s frustrating that road work was being done in front of their location for months, and then the bridge project began.

“This is hugely disruptive and why didn’t they do all the work in front of our buildings, when the bridge was closed?” said Gallo. “Now we had six months of construction, then another 24-month closure. They could have done all that at the same time.”

The Stony Plain Road Bridge was torn down less than a decade after the rehabilitation work was done. If you wonder, “Why didn’t they do the heavy lifting for the LRT at the same time?” don’t worry. We asked.

“They are separate issues because at the time that work was approved and completed, there was no timeline for the Valley Line West LRT, as there was no funding in place from the provincial or federal governments,” wrote Ward Nakota Isga Coun. Andrew Knack in an email. “In fact, at that time, it was suggested that the Valley Line West LRT was likely 20 to 25 years away from going forward, so the council of the day made the decision to do the bridge work independent of the LRT.”

So, while residents in the area can grumble about multiple closures in the area in less than a decade, the projects aren’t related.

According to the contractor overseeing the western extension of the LRT, Marigold Infrastructure Partners, “the new Stony Plain Road Bridge will feature one lane of vehicle traffic in either direction, the Valley Line West LRT tracks, a sidewalk for pedestrians, and a shared-use path running along the south side of the bridge.” Marigold estimates construction of the new bridge will take two years.

Mena said he’s hopeful that Bodega’s proximity to 124 Street means the restaurant won’t be hidden away, and will still attract passersby. But in the back of his head are worries that Bodega could be faced with issues like businesses on 102nd Avenue were in 2015 and ’16, when the bridge close to them went down.

“For them, it had a bigger impact  than COVID did,” Mena said. “Some businesses closed. Unlike with COVID, they weren’t able to access any relief.”

Call the Kettle Black, Harlow and The Bothy Wine & Whisky Bar all closed during the time that the 102 Avenue bridge was closed, and all of them fingered the project as being the major reason they did so.

Because Stony Plain Road between 124 Street and the bridge is now essentially a dead space, Mena would like to see the City do a couple of things that would help local businesses. The first would be to provide free parking on both sides of the street, since it has no traffic. Second would be to provide signage that would make it clear what businesses are open on the stretch of Stony Plain Road affected by the bridge closure.

Gallo suggested that affected landowners should see a lowering in their property taxes for the next two years, the expected duration of the bridge project.