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Hamilton businesses face two months of road works

Business owners are concerned about two months of “disruption and inconvenience” in the heart of Hamilton during the busy tourism season.The Corporation of Hamilton is warning people to brace themselves for delays as the island’s utility companies will be working on King Street, Reid Street and Front Street to upgrade underground services.Work will start this weekend and continue until the end of October, and will include about six weeks of trenching work outside the stores on Reid Street. And any holdups caused by the weather mean the work will continue into November.Business owners, who are already struggling because of the downfall in the economy, fear pedestrians will be inconvenienced and there will be fewer parking spots for motorists.They believe it would make “more business sense” for the work to be carried out in the quietest months of January or February.The Chamber of Commerce has detailed the roadworks in its latest newsletter and urges business owners to be patient.Paul Dean, general manager of Marks and Spencer, said: “We are expecting disruption and inconvenience. When something like this happens, it’s never helpful to shoppers or motorists.“This will affect business when we are already struggling to make an honest buck.“It’s certainly not a good thing they are doing it during the peak tourist season. It would have made much more sense if the work was carried out in January or February.“There is also a danger of the work overrunning and we don’t want that to happen as by the first week of November, we will be preparing for Christmas”.Mr Dean added the roadworks were “another thing” for businesses on Reid Street to deal with as they had been disrupted by the building of the new HSBC Bermuda building.Phil Barnett, owner of the Island Restaurant Group, called the roadworks “a necessary evil”.He said: “We know these roadworks have to be done but we hope the amount of disruption is kept to a minimum. We know the Corporation is sensitive to our needs and can only hope it’s not going to affect us too much.“We are already suffering because of the economy”.From Sunday the junction of Reid Street and King Street will be repaved. Spurling Hill will be closed to traffic, access out of town to the east will be via Court Street and Middle Road from the east will be re-routed at Corkscrew Hill to East Broadway.Trenching along Reid Street, from Queen to Parliament Street, will start on September 6 and take about six weeks.Work will be carried out in two phases; the first phase from Queen to Burnaby will take up to four weeks then work will continue towards Parliament Street.Trenching work will also be carried out on Front Street, from HSBC Bermuda to King Street. This work will take place at the same time as the Reid Street work.Paula Clarke, who heads up the retail division of the Chamber of Commerce, said businesses had been consulted and they welcomed the upgrades by utility companies.Ms Clarke, Gibbons Company CEO, said: “The Corporation of Hamilton did write to me with their proposal and I did speak to a great number of businesses along Reid Street about it.“Although many businesses would have preferred to see the work taking place in the winter months, we were told this wouldn’t be possible as it was in the utility company budgets for this year”.Edward Benevides, chief operating officer and secretary of the Corporation of Hamilton, said they hoped to keep to their time schedule, but added that the weather was “the major factor”.