BUSINESSES affected by the redesign of The Kingsway and surrounding streets are hoping the long wait will be worth it.
The brakes were put on the £12 million Swansea city centre project when contractor Dawnus went into administration in March.
Council staff and other contractors have ensured some momentum since then, while work to finalise a new contract continues.
The project began in April, 2018, and will reintroduce a two-way traffic flow on The Kingsway and Orchard Street, which will also have wider pavements.
And Mansel Street, De La Beche Street, Grove Place and Alexandra Road will revert to being two-way again.
The pedestrian-friendly scheme will also create a park with benches and greenery where The Kingsway meets Princess Way.
Initially it was hoped the job, which largely unpicks the bendy bus re-routing work of a decade ago, would be completed in full this summer. But some of the project will now run into 2020.
Judy Davison, the owner of City Lighting, between The Kingsway and Mansel Street, said: “There is not a lot the council can do because of the contract.
“They are stuck, as much as we would like them to hurry up.”
She said she’d heard a new contractor would be announced soon.
Businessman Ray Tilley said he had concerns about the width of the new lanes in The Kingsway, but added that pedestrian access was more important to his business Tilleys – on the corner of The Kingsway and Cradock Street – than traffic.
Mr Tilley said the ongoing work seemed to be moving “at a reasonable pace” and, asked for his expectations on the completed scheme, said: “Hopefully it will be a lovely area to walk along.”
Meanwhile Charles Ashburner, of Mr Flag, on De La Beche Street, also hoped the project would bring benefits.
“If the traffic is free-flowing, and they don’t muck up the traffic lights, I think it could be an improvement,” he said.
But he pointed out that recent work at the Christina Street-Mansel Street traffic light junction had led to lengthy queues for people heading into the city from the direction of Uplands.
“It was horrific,” he said. “The road is pretty heavily used throughout the day.”
Council leader Rob Stewart said the next phase of work would focus on the roundabout outside The Potters Wheel, including the installation of three new zebra crossings nearby.
He said: “In the background we continue our work to finalise the appointment of our new main contractor.
“Those detailed negotiations include the scheduling of works and we’ll update the public as soon as we have that timeline.
“At the same time, we are in discussion with a number of the suppliers to Dawnus so that we can make use of materials which have already been delivered to the site.
“We anticipate the total costs of the scheme to be within the existing budget.
“The majority of the scheme will be completed this year including the main Kingsway elements, along with works to some side streets.”
The Labour leader thanked the public and businesses for their understanding and patience.
“They can be sure that The Kingsway of the future – and its neighbouring streets – will be a tremendous asset to Swansea,” he said.
Around 170 trees will be planted in total on The Kingsway and Orchard Street, although some existing trees were felled last year.
Other developments on The Kingsway include a 310-bed student development on the corner of Christina Street, which will open in September, and a new office development at the former Oceana site.
A pedestrian link is being created between the Oceana site and Oxford Street.
And social housing provider Pobl Group wants to turn Orchard House, which fronts The Kingsway and Orchard Street, into 52 apartments, offices and shops.
Referring to The Kingsway project, Ian Price, the director of CBI Wales, said there was a general perception in Swansea and further afield that projects took too long to complete.
He said: “We live in Swansea, but if you talk to people in North Wales or South East-Wales, they’d say the same.”
Mr Price, of West Cross, said he didn’t necessarily think that perception was justified, but felt that Wales as a country had not experienced the economic shift that many expected from devolution 20 years ago.
“I don’t think we have become the agile country that people hoped it would be,” he said.