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Biomass road upgrade slated to start May 4

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The town is getting ready to begin the $5.4-million Portage Avenue, Nelson Street, and Victoria Avenue truck route upgrade next month, which will see the town improve the roads, as well as sewer and water, in relation to AbitibiBowater’s biomass boiler project.

Council approved Bay City Contractors of Thunder Bay to do the job at Monday night’s regular meeting, with work to begin May 4 and end by Sept. 18.

Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown said the portion of work this year on the two-year job will include:

•Victoria Avenue from Nelson Street to Front Street;

•Nelson Street from Portage Avenue to Victoria Avenue; and

•Portage Avenue from Nelson Street to the south side of First Street East (the intersection near the Voyageur Inn).

Work next year will include Portage Avenue from First Street East to Third Street East, and then Fifth Street to Sixth Street (the underpass will be repaved as part of the rehabilitation project there).

Brown said a public meeting will be held soon to discuss the work and the impact it will have on the hospital, police station, jail, fire hall, post office, Civic Centre, and St Mary’s Church.

“A lot of people are affected by the job this year,” he noted.

The job is being paid for mainly through several means, including grants from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. and Investing in Ontario fund, and federal gas tax revenues, with a projected funding shortfall of $363,500 the town may have to pick up in the 2010 budget.

The upgrades are necessary to accommodate large trucks carrying waste wood to the biomass boiler, as well as enable the excavation of wood waste from the local landfill to be incinerated.

Also Monday night, council awarded, in principle, Tender No. 09-OF-02 (the 2009 roadway reconstruction of Scott Street from Reid Avenue to Colonization Road East) to Tom Veert Contracting Ltd. at an estimated cost of $1,966,569.50, with the understanding that once Ministry of Transportation funding is in place, the town will execute the contract documents.

The exact date of the work has not been set as it remains contingent on the town getting “Connecting Link” funding from the province.

If it goes ahead, the first stage of the two-stage project will include Scott Street from Reid Avenue to Minnie Avenue.

This work will include sewer and water and storm sewer infrastructure replacement, as well as the widening and resurfacing of the road and the elimination of the sidewalk on the south side of the street.

The town also will hold an open house-public meeting in the future to ensure all property owners abutting the construction are aware of it, and able to obtain first-hand knowledge on it and have their questions answered.

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