Considering the state of the roadways in this city, in most cases that being really bad, I think most of us who spend time on them would like council to put as much money into their repair as possible.
Yet at its meeting on Feb. 24, council voted to remove $250,000 from the resurfacing allocation of the approved 2020 Miscellaneous Construction Budget.
The reason: According to Carl Rumiel, Manager Design & Transportation Engineering, the money was needed to increase the fee limit of Kresin Engineering to $793,500 for its work on the reconstruction of Bay Street.
Rumiel explained that in September 2014 council had awarded Kresin Engineering the contract to provide engineering services associated with the Bay Street Improvements project with an engineering fee limit of $303,500.
This, according to the agenda for the 2014 meeting, was for partial reconstruction and resurfacing of Bay Street, no decision having been made at that time as to whether Bay Street would be reduced to two lanes or three..
Later, when council decided Bay Street should be reduced to two lanes and it was to be a signature project which, Rumiel said, meant enhanced landscaping and active transportation amenities such as street furnishings, pedestrian lighting, bus shelters, bicycle racks, waste receptacles and drinking fountains, a further increase of $240,000 to the engineering fee limit (to a total of $543,500) was approved.
The total cost of the reconstruction project, which was awarded to Pioneer Construction, therefore was $7,477,672..The further increase in engineering fees, which was approved by council, jumps the cost to $7,727,672 for a reconstruction project running from Andrew to Pim Street that was to be done in one year but which only got as far as Brock.
This means about one-third of the project remains to be done this year.
“One of the key reasons for the construction delay that we confirmed during questions at the meeting was the issue of delayed utility locates,” Chief Administrative Officer Malcolm White told me.
“This was a citywide problem last year that affected progress on all public and private construction projects. Due to the residential fibreoptic cable installations being done by Bell last year, there was huge increase in locate requests. Not all the utility companies were prepared to deal with the increased demand.”
Back in 2014, total cost of the reconstruction project if it had been done at that time would have been about $2.9 million, either for two lanes or three lanes.
Another figure emerged a few years later, when council began discussing the project for real, and that was for $4.9 million.
When it became a signature project in council’s mind and the call went out for tenders, only one was received and it was for $8.4 million. Through negotiations and cutbacks, the project cost was reduced to the $7.4 million figure.
We can only hope this signature project turns out to be worth it and it is not just council seeing it as a feather in its cap. Personally I have had trouble envisioning what we are going to end up with, considering there is not all that much in the way of businesses on the street to attract people. I have always just considered Bay Street a traffic route for locals and those exiting the International Bridge.
In any event, I would have appreciated council looking elsewhere than our road repairs for the money to pass on to Kresin Engineering.
I look at Third Line between Black Road and Great Northern Road and see it as prime example of where our tax dollars could be put to good use.
And this road, of course, is only one of many that could use a new layer of asphalt.
So I would suggest in future that council consider the resurfacing budget sacrosanct.
I NOTED A COUPLE weeks back a start was being made on putting the traffic lights back up on Bay between Andrew and Brock.
If things carry on the way they are going at the moment, they should be completed about the same time the reconstruction of Bay between Brock and Pim is completed.
I really had a hard time understanding how all the parts wouldn’t have been available to have the traffic lights back in action by the time the reconstruction between Andrew and Brock came to a close.
And I am having an even harder time understanding why it is happening at such a slow pace now.
WITH THE ONTARIO English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) announcing it has reached a tentative agreement with the province and is suspending strike action during the ratification process, I have no doubt other teachers’ unions will follow.
However, in the event they don’t and picketing returns, I have a suggestion for any who plan to picket local MPP Ross Romano’s office in the El;gin Tower.
Just do it on Elgin Street. Leave the Bay Street entrance free from any picketing.
A lot of people don’t like crossing union picket lines and there are a lot of businesses in the tower that have nothing to do with the strike. Neither their businesses nor their clients should feel hindered by what is going on outside Romano’s office.
Actually, I wonder at the efficacy of picketing his office as he is never there for any of it.
Anyway, for what it’s worth, I just thought I would give the teachers my thoughts on how the picketing should work. I think it is something that should satisfy all parties.
MCDONALD’S IS NO longer providing free coffee refills because of the coronavirus. They don’t want employees to have to handle cups that may have been compromised.
It might be something McDonald’s should consider on a permanent basis. After all, the coronavirus is not the only thing that could compromise staff. Who knows where some of those cups have been.