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Town planning for more road work

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With the water, sewer, and road reconstruction of Central Avenue now completed, the town has its sights set on more road and traffic-related projects in 2009.

One of these projects is the Portage Avenue, Nelson Street, and Victoria Avenue truck route upgrade, which will see the town improve the roads, as well as sewer and water, in relation to AbitibiBowater’s biomass boiler project.

Council approved a report at its regular meeting Tuesday night to allocate to this project the $770,986 it received as its share of the provincial $1.1-billion funding under the Investing in Ontario Act by Premier Dalton McGuinty in August.

A discussion was held by the Administration and Finance executive committee as to the appropriate and most efficient allocation of these funds, Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig noted in a report to council.

The committee identified roads, sewer, and water infrastructure enhancements for the “Abitibi Alternative Energy Project,” which consists of truck route upgrades for Portage Avenue, Nelson Street, and Victoria Avenue.

The reconstruction of the Portage Avenue underpass currently underway is the first stage of this truck route upgrade.

The total cost of the truck route upgrade is estimated at $7,317,843, with funding already secured from Move Ontario ($883,409), the Rural Infrastructure Investment Initiative ($1,060,000), and Roads & Bridges Grant ($191,885), with approval from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. ($1,328,849) and a $2,536,566 commitment of water and sewer reserves.

The multi-stage project ultimately will see the reconstruction of Portage Avenue from Church Street to Sixth Street (part of this already has been done as part of the underpass work), then Portage Avenue from Church Street to Nelson Street, then Nelson Street from Portage Avenue to Victoria Avenue, and Victoria Avenue from Nelson Street to Front Street.

A short span of Nelson Street from Portage Avenue to Veteran Avenue also will be redone.

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

In related news, council approved a five-year capital forecast for funding under the King’s Highway Connecting Link Program.

Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown recommended in his report that the town request $1,258,60 for three projects in 2009:

•Phase One of the reconstruction of Scott Street from just east of Reid Avenue to Colonization Road East (the town is expected to tender this project in early January, with construction beginning around May or when funding is approved);

•an engineering study to see if traffic control lights are needed along King’s Highway near the intersection of Webster Avenue; and

•an upgrade to the traffic control systems along King’s Highway (namely vehicle detection and surveillance features at the intersections with Keating Avenue and McIrvine Road).

The Connecting Link funding allocation for this past year was $971,583 for the completion of the reconstruction of Central Avenue and Scott Street (Central Avenue to Mowat Avenue).

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