Anyone driving through Hawkesbury’s Bon Pasteur St. or Regent St. knows that winter has not been kind to them.

Granted, winter is seldom kind to any street, but these two are in a peculiar situation, having been left in a a state of construction limbo since late fall 2017.

What are the goals of these two projects? Why were they started so late in the year? How much will all this cost? What’s left to do?

Alaine Lavoie, Public Works Superintendent for the Town of Hawkesbury, has some answers.

“Basically, we installed a water main under Bon Pasteur St. The previous setup was only four inches, feeding water from McGill Street up to the old school. It had very poor hydro capacity.”

According to Lavoie, the four-inch pipe was capped at the school, creating a less-than-ideal setup.

“The way things were didn’t provide enough water for fire hydrants nor did it allow us to clean the system with a high-velocity flushing. Now, we have a water main from McGill Street to Genevi√®ve Street, creating a complete circuit. We also added fire hydrants and improved the street’s sanitary sewer system.”

Regent Street is in a similar situation. Lavoie stated that the work done mimics that of Bon Pasteur, with a few extras.

“We’ll also build new sidewalks and a new sanitary sewer system. It’s an old residential part of town, so it’s necessary. Also, when excavating, we noticed that the gas lines are too close to the surface.”

For Hawkesbury, this means entering into a franchise agreement with the distributor, Enbridge. Lavoie clarifies:

“In such an agreement, the distributor pays 65% of the cost and the town covers the rest. It wasn’t planned, but the line is still decades old, so it’s a good move. It’s the next step for Regent Street, before we finish what we originally planned.”

Why so late?

Tackling such an infrastructure project is potentially very expensive for the town’s taxpayers, which is why funding is often sought to reduce residents’ financial burden.

For this project, the town turned to Infrastructure Ontario’s Clean Water Wastewater Fund (CWWF), a program that “targets projects that will contribute to the rehabilitation of both water treatment and distribution infrastructure.”

“When we originally applied for the funds, we expected to get our approval in February [2017],” said Guillaume Boudrias, Project Manager for the Town of Hawkesbury.

“This would’ve allowed us to design the plans and prepare the invitations to tender by May. Construction would’ve started in June and ended in October. That was the original timetable. Sadly, the funding approval only came at the end of May.”

This delay wasn’t the only snag, however. One of the conditions tied to the CWWF was that the project had to be completed before 2018. The town then had to apply for a deadline expansion, which it got, but 60% of the funds still had to be spent before March 31, 2018.

“We had no choice but to go forward and spend the 60% lest we lose the funds. We went ahead as planned and followed the established steps. That’s why we have two unfinished streets this winter. It’s highly inconvenient for residents and maintenance,” confirmed Boudrias.

The cost

According to Boudrias, both projects each have a cost of approximately $1.1 million. The CWWF will fund 75 per cent of the Regent Street work and 50 per cent of the Bon Pasteur Street improvements.

“Projects like this can rarely be done without such funding,” said Boudrias.

The delay caused by the winter hiatus added a few expenses to the total cost, but according to Boudrias, the amount not large.

“There are some additional maintenance costs, obviously. The recent changes in temperature didn’t help. We don’t have the exact amount, but we’ll know once winter’s over.

Surviving winter

The town’s Public Works Department knew full well that winter would bring about problems in term of maintenance

“Either we would be taking care of it or the chosen contractor would. Personally, I preferred the contractor option, since they’re his construction sites.”

The chosen contractor for both projects is Groupe Foucault and according to Lavoie, having the contractor handle the maintenance simplifies matters in terms of liability and insurance.

“The contractor agreed. I would be making my daily inspections, as usual, and call him as needed. It wasn’t so bad when the temperature stayed cold, but when it started to fluctuate from -20 to 5 Celsius… Add salt and traffic to that and things start thawing unevenly.”

As the town’s Road Authority, Lavoie had to make some important calls once February hit.

“At some point, things got really bad on Regent and the contractor had mechanical issues. I called Mayor Charlebois and told her I would be temporarily closing the street. As I said, maintaining the site is the contractor’s responsibility, but I help as much as I can.”

Since then, local traffic only signs have been added at the extremities of both sites and the speed limit has been lowered to 20 km/h by Lavoie.

“The contractor should now inspect both sites twice a day, seven days a week. If we have to step up and fix it as a last resort, the cost will be billed.”

The next step

Project Manager Boudrias stated that work should resume sometime in March 2018.

“Some work will be done on Bon Pasteur and its bridge for approximately six weeks. Once the half-load restrictions are lifted and the asphalt plants reopen, we’ll start paving. For Regent, the next step is the gas main. That should also take four to six weeks, which delays the rest of the contractor’s work.”

The intersection of McGill, Bon Pasteur and Nelson East will also be seeing major work over the summer.

“The intersection will be completely closed-off for one, maybe two weekends. Major excavation work will be going on. We’ll be changing the water connecting link and the sewer sanitary system,” confirmed Boudrias.

If all goes well, Bon Pasteur Street should be completed before July and Regent Street before the start of August.