Millroy : I have never been able to fully come to grips with council’s fascination for Bay Street.

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All over this city there are roads badly in need of repair. Only some will get any kind of fix-up this year, others may not even get it next year.

Yet council on Monday night may just decide to spend about $7 million on an upgrade to Bay Street that will see it reduced to two lanes but, the idea seems to be, make it pleasing to the eye.

I suppose, if council does decide to go ahead, we, the taxpayers, can be thankful for one thing: The cost will not be as great as it could have been.

Only one tender was received, from Pioneer Construction Inc., for $8,571,376. The pre-tender estimate was $7,399,104, excluding HST, which was 16% below the tendered price.

However, the price tag that will be going to council for the reconstruction will be $6,799,476.50 as several items were dropped from the project as proposed. There will, of course, still be the cost for the work of Kresin Engineering Corporation, which council will be asked to increase from $477,650 to $580,000 because of its increased work load because of the changes to the project.

Kresin and city staff had entered into negotiations with Pioneer that resulted in changes to the schedule of items and prices:
Kresin, in a report to Carl Rumiel, manager, design and transportation engineering with the city, said this included:
1. A reduction in the provisional items for sanitary and storm sewer work, equipment rental and similar items;
2. Elimination of optional upgrades to pedestrian trail lighting systems;
3. Elimination of landscaped parkettes at Russ Ramsay Way and at East Street;
4. Revisions to the price and quantity of planting bed soil;
5. Substitution using concrete in lieu of unit paver treatment to boulevards;
6. Revisions to unit pricing on various items.
Rumiel, in his report that will be going to council on Monday, listed the changes that resulted as:
1..Removal of proposed gathering locations;
2. Removal of unit pavers in the boulevard (replace with concrete);
3. Removal of concrete curb around planters;
4. Reduce the depth of planting bed soil

Whatever the case, implementation of the agreed changes resulted in a price reduction of $1,771,899.50.

The total price of $7.4 million, as far as I am concerned,  is still far too high for what is mainly a through street, with very little in the way of business along it.

My druthers would have been to simply upgrade the street by doing what was required to the sewage and storm lines beneath it and then reducing it to three lanes simply by repainting the lanes on the new pavement to allow for bike paths on each side of the street..

This reduction to three lanes was actually proposed back in 2015 and for a lot lighter price tag.

The preferred alternative at that time by a study conducted for the city was to reduce Bay Street to three lanes with the pedestrian sidewalk remaining on the north side of the street and a multi-use path being incorporated into the south side. A landscaped boulevard would separate them from the traffic lanes.

The estimated capital cost of this project was a mere, if millions can ever be considered mere, $2.8 million.

Even when the two-laning of Bay Street evolved into the preferred option, the original estimated price tag was much lower than what we are looking at now.

In an analysis included in a report going to council Monday night, Rumiel pegged that estimated cost at $4.94 million.:

“This project began as a partial reconstruction and conversion to two lanes with a multi-use trail after the Downtown Traffic Environmental Assessment (EA) was complete,” he says in his report..

“Subsequent to the original budget estimate of $4.94 million staff acted on Council’s wishes that it be a signature project which meant a re-scoping to include enhanced landscaping and
active transportation amenities such as street furnishings, pedestrian lighting, bus
shelters, bicycle racks, waste receptacles and drinking fountains.

“The pre-tender estimate (post design), which was not received until after the tender was
issued, estimated the work to be at $7.4 million. Unfortunately, there was no opportunity to
share the pre-tender estimate without compromising the competitive bid process.

“Only one (1) tender was received. It was from Pioneer Construction Inc., which was found
to be complete and is summarized on the attached report from Kresin Engineering. The
tender value is $8,571,376 (excluding HST).

“In an attempt to bring this project closer in line with available funds, the Engineering
Division and Kresin Engineering entered into a negotiation with Pioneer Construction to
reduce the scope of work”

This, as already mentioned, brought about the reduction in price.

But the city was still short a lot of money when the initial estimate of $4.94 million was put against the new figure of nearly $7 million.

To get around this Rumiel in his report says staff recommends that $1,900,000 of the Special
2019 Gas Tax funds originally allocated to the Downtown Initiative and $600,000
allocated to resurfacing projects be redirected to the Bay Street project.

The latter, of course, refers to the roads in disrepair that I mentioned in the lead of this piece, some of them not going to get much-needed repair.

I have never been able to fully come to grips with council’s fascination for Bay Street.

I think it is nice to have beautiful roadways running through the city, but I can’t stop questioning whether the cost is worth it.

I know politicians always have great things in mind for the city but I sometimes wonder if they ever look around to see what is going on.

All our malls have many empty spaces, the Station Mall now having lost its two anchor stores in Sears and Walmart.

With the major shopping area in the city now in the north end, what is the purpose in putting out millions for a project that is really “signature” only in the eyes of council?

To the common person out there I will bet it means nothing at all. No one I have spoken with about two-laning Bay Street has a good word to say about it.

I am not about to say that what is proposed for Bay Street would be like putting lipstick on a pig or attempting to build a Taj Mahal on a piker’s budget, but I do hope Council will take into account that this is Sault Ste. Marie, not Ottawa or Toronto where federal and provincial money, respectively, flows freely.

20 COMMENTS

  1. Bay Street is nothing more than a way to get from the west end to the east end. There are really no shops or needs to stop on Bay Street. Why is council determined to create bike paths and green areas when we already have the bondar pavilion and the entire waterfront.?

  2. What is with our city council and their bad ideas. Why drop to 2 lanes. Focus on road repairs and bringing some industry to this city. Put people back to work so that they can support their family’s.

  3. I LOVE the idea of making Bay two lanes!!

    Bay is now a raceway that many citizens won’t even THINK about being a reasonable thing to do.

    That’s a HUGE problem if we want our entertainment, commercial and business downtown to be from the waterfront up to Queen Street in between Huron and Pim.

    We want all citizens who live in, and/or use our downtown to think nothing of crossing Bay by foot with or without a cane or walker.

    Two-landed Bay does that Doug.

    PLUS yearly maintenance costs are that much less expensive.

    I think Saulites don’t really want our downtown to be on the hill up and down our congested GNR highway completely and utterly removed from the cruise ships, and our welcoming Sault International Bridge entrance.

    Two-laning Bay is a lynch pin in the development of our community, and it needs to be done this summer.

    It’s just too bad we don’t have our own paving equipment so we’re not held hostage to these tenders.

    Citizen Mark Brown

  4. This project needs to happen. This city lacks so much in terms of aesthetics it’s not even funny. People always say, why can’t our downtown look as nice as petoskey, etc.. You can’t do that by just laying down new pavement. We need fully activated, streetscaped areas that leave lasting impressions.

    • Do you understand the reduction of Bay Street to two lanes from four is basically cutting out 20 feet of roadway? For what purpose? Much of the north side of the street is parking lots or large structures. All the “streetscaping” (whatever that made up word means) isn’t going to change that.
      Bay Street should be fixed structurally and then given a new line paint job. Bike lanes on each side and three traffic lanes. In winter, the bike lanes would nicely hold the 6 foot snowbanks that normally turn the road into a 3 lane street anyway.
      Based on the reductions that were found much of the “streetscaping” isn’t going to happen. As this is a major traffic thoroughfare in the city much of the traffic using it isn’t “sightseeing”. Just fix the road for a few million and use the “found money” to repair other streets with severe pavement issues.

      • Jim, you’re showing your age. Travel out of Sault Ste. Marie sometime and you’ll see examples of great streetscaping and ‘complete streets’. Yes I understand what cutting two lanes of traffic means, and that’s a good thing. Pedestrians and tourists need not to worry about crossing four lanes of traffic to access the waterfront or vice versa. The traffic count doesn’t warrant four lanes anymore.

        Here’s a great example:
        https://www.eugene-or.gov/ImageRepository/Document?documentID=44290

        • Age has nothing to do with my comment. I’ve traveled extensively to many cities, large ans small, in Canada and the US…including Eugene, Oregon. I’ve seen similar streetscapes that work because it is part of the main street of the city or where there is a major tourist focal point very nearby(historic homes etc). We have nothing similar to Petoskey or Mackinaw City or Traverse City (i.e. old homes, downtown beach,) or other tourist towns in Ontario, that are unavoidable.

          Bay Street doesn’t have any appeal even if you ‘fancied’ it up with a few trees and planters. As I said, virtually the entire street is lined by massive buildings and parking lots. Google it and you will understand what I’m talking about.
          If I am a tourist in this city I would be walking on the boardwalk/hub trail(a block away) or visiting the canal area, Bushplane Museum and Old Stone House(at the very end of Bay Street). What I see on the way there isn’t going to make or break stopping at those places but a smooth ride would help.

          This is a bad plan that is throwing away taxpayer money with absolutely no financial gain in return (other than for auto drivers not having to replace bent rims). Fix the road, repaint for 3 lanes and you’re done. Even the bike lanes are virtually useless as (as mentioned) the boardwalk/hub trail is a block away and if I’m riding my bike I’ll go that route rather than putting my life on the line with the bad drivers going down Bay Street. Once it’s repaved ,put some planters on the boulevard and you’re good to go.

          Spending millions to ‘streetscape’ Bay St. is putting lipstick on a pig.

    • Yeah Bay Street is so aesthetically pleasing to the eye lol . Sightseeing will be at all time high , not . Petoskey and TC and Soo Michigan have streets lined with stores and restaurants not garages , parking lots , car washes and run down crumbling structures like Bay Street. Open your eyes

    • Our city doesn’t look like Petoskey for the simple fact that we are not a wealthy community like Petoskey. Petoskey is the muskoka’s of Michigan.

  5. “I think it is nice to have beautiful roadways running through the city”

    Indeed, that’s why you would think that Queen street downtown would be the number one priority seeing as this is the area that they want to revitalize. Instead it remains a horrible series of never ending potholes and bumps from East to Gore Street, including the dandy hump at March and Queen that is almost enough to launch a vehicle doing the speed limit. The city sure has a funny way of prioritizing things.

      • Really? And what is the time frame for that, 5 years, 10 years? I’ll believe that when I see it!

      • I think the reason why most people are complaining is because making Bay and Queen “nice” are nice to haves. Nice to haves should be completed once priorities are taken care of. 75% of the main arteries in this town either need resurfacing or reconstruction, yet we are focusing on making things “nice”. Every day I see a new article on Facebook or Sootoday about new plans for downtown or a new study. Do your due diligence first and fix the several pressing infrastructure issues all over town.

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