By Craig Westcott | The Pearl
Construction crews working on the refurbishment of Sunrise Avenue are expected to shut down their operations for the season around mid-December, but not before laying at least one layer of asphalt on the street.
Councillor Lucy Stoyles raised the question of whether Sunrise will get pavement during an update on the project offered by councillor Isabella Fry, who co-chairs council's infrastructure and public works committee.
Mayor Dave Aker asked the City's manager of engineering, Carol Gillingham, for the latest word on the project. "Carol, we're a little bit up against the weather, potentially," Aker said. "I think it's 50/50 whether we see a green Christmas here every year, so to councillor Stoyles' point, will we see pavement on Sunrise before Christmas?"
"That is the plan and we're still working on it," Gillingham replied. She noted the consultant overseeing the project has staff on site every day checking on the project as does the City. "Right now, it's showing to have everything covered with asphalt by December 16. That is the plan... Right now we are on track. It is much more delayed than what we expected, but we are still expecting it all to have asphalt."
The project itself, Gillingham clarified, won't be completed until next year. That means the asphalt laid this month may have to be tore up again next spring.
"My concern is the asphalt plants will be closed and it won't get done," said Stoyles. "If that happens the people up there will be in an awful state all winter."
Gillingham said the good thing in this case is that the contractor, Weir's Construction, has its own asphalt plant. "So, they're not dependent on somebody else's plant being left open," she said. "As long as they're working (on Sunrise), they've assured us that they will keep their plant open as long as it is required to finish what they have to do there."
Aker said while there may come a time between now and mid-December when the weather makes work difficult, the company will still be bound to lay down asphalt. 'We won't be plowing on gravel roads for the rest of the winter," he said. "In that particular case, Plan B I guess would be to lay down a very thin strip of pavement just to accommodate snow clearing."
Gillingham said not having a layer of asphalt in place this winter is not an option. "There will be asphalt placed this winter, one way or the other," she said.
Councillor Andrew Ledwell said he shares Stoyles' concerns and while he has faith staff have done everything they can to keep the project on track, "We need to hold these contractors and consultants' feet to the fire,” he added. “We need to sharpen our pencils as a City, but we also need them to sharpen their pencils and work with us. When the snow starts flying, we can't be scrambling to try to complete these projects."
Ledwell suggested the City should conduct a review of how it is handling some of its projects. "It seems that we're always running into November and December on certain projects," he said. "Sometimes residents are a bit concerned when we run into December and we don't have pavement down."
Aker said it wasn't the City's decision to continue construction so late in the season. "That's really the contractor's decision," he said. "Our role is to ensure that our City services continue to be delivered and that we still get good value. But yes, at the end of the day we can't have rocky roads, and we won't, heading into the winter. It just seems that this time of the year it gets a little bit risky in terms of where you think the weather is going. But I want to reassure the residents up there we will not be plowing dirt and rocks onto their lawns."
Gillingham said staff are working to improve its project management and with the new legislation regarding Requests for Proposals, the City will be able to issue its own proposals and requirements rather than depend on the province to do it on its behalf. That should help with ensuring projects are completed on time and not lagging into the winter.
"There's definitely a lesson learned (here) for us to prevent that," she added.