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Town provides first construction update of the season

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Hold on to your hard hats because construction season in Fort Frances is officially underway.

At Monday night's town council meeting, Operations and Facilities manager Travis Rob provided council with his first capital project update of the season, noting that while there are several projects planned around town, they are either only just begun or scheduled to start soon, and all will be held to heightened safety standards due to COVID-19.

“Under the COVID emergency, road construction has been considered an essential service, under the emergency order put out by the province,” Rob said.

“We are working with our various contractors to set out appropriate social distancing measures, just to make sure that we are maintaining the health and safety of our workers, their workers, our onsite inspectors and of course the general public.”

Rob noted that as of Monday night's meeting there were three projects set for this year, with another project still out for tender and awaiting an announcement of funding from the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO).

“Starting with Scott Street, the project is going to be completed by Makkinga Contracting,” Rob said.

“The contractor is onsite, they started early this afternoon, they're basically getting organized, setting up signage, starting to layout some temporary water lines.”

In an email Rob sent to the Times regarding the projects, he noted that the stretch of Scott St. that will be worked on -which runs from the river to Reid Ave- contains infrastructure that is well past its lifespan.

“The work consists of new sewer and watermains, new storm sewer mains, new sidewalk and curb and gutter with base coarse asphalt this year and surface coarse in 2021,” Rob wrote, and included that both the watermain and sanitary sewermain are 96 years old and date back to 1924. Rob included that the life expectancy for the old material is roughly 80 years, compared to the projected 100+ year lifespan of the new material that will be going in during this project.

In addition, the road surface itself dates back to 1984 along that stretch of Scott St, which Rob said is usually expected to have a useful lifespan of 25 years. The first phase of the Scott Street project is expected to be completed by October 16, 2020.

The second project Rob provided an update for was the Erin Cres. construction, which will be handled by Bay City Contractors.

“[Bay City] are planning on coming up and starting the dewatering on May 4,” he said.

“They are just waiting for their dewatering pump and it's due to be delivered this week, so they will have staff on site monitoring the dewatering equipment for that week before they begin their excavations.”

Rob also noted that Colonization Road West will also be undergoing significant construction this year, with the starting date for the work to be disclosed soon. The work on Colonization Rd. W. will be done by Tom Veert Contracting.

“We are having an internal preconstruction meeting that will be held in the afternoon of April 30,” Rob noted.

“Work is scheduled to start around the end of May and at the April 30 meeting we'll get a more concrete timeline for that. We will be holding a public preconstruction meeting... likely by teleconference. We will be scheduling that closer to the construction start date, and... residents along that stretch of road will be delivered the information prior to that construction meeting as well.”

In his email to the Times, Rob explained that the Colonization project is a full reconstruction as well, and while the existing lines aren't quite as old as those along Scott Street -the watermain dates back to 1967 and the sanitary sewermain dates back to 1964- they will still be replaced with the new PVC material mains.

Rob also gave a short update about a project that is yet a ways out from beginning.

“We have out for tender right now the widening and resurfacing of King's Hwy from Pit Road #1 to Pit Road #2,” he said.

“This is a project that was applied for under the MTO Connecting Links program. The application was submitted last fall. We are tendering right now, my contacts with the MTO are expecting us to hear on the potential funding award for that project in the coming days, I was almost expecting something last week, but haven't heard anything yet. As we're getting later into the season we are trying to get ducks in a row so we'll be able to start that as soon as we can, pending of course approval of our funding application.”

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