Tehkummah approves preliminary road rehab plans

Work to the 10th Sideroad will hopefully alleviate flooding problems like this in the future. Expositor file photo

TEHKUMMAH – The Township of Tehkummah has begun the major roadway rehabilitation project scheduled for this year, with the project soon to be tendered after council approved the general scope of the project at its February 4 regular meeting.

Monte Lucas, a senior project manager at engineering firm WSP who attended the meeting to outline his company’s plans for the work area, said he would present the elements in totality. Components within that plan are able to be taken out as needed to fit within the budgetary restrictions

“If that works with you, we will get a preliminary budget and we can proceed to tender very quickly. If not, we can make some modifications now and go to tender after that,” he said. 

Tehkummah received roughly $3 million for this project through the federal Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) as well as a provincial grant.

This project involves the 10th Sideroad from the Government Road in the village of Tehkummah down to the Sixth Concession. The Sixth Concession itself will be part of the project from Highway 6 westward until the intersection with the 15th Sideroad. The 15th Sideroad up to the Government Road is the fourth part of the rehabilitation project.

Construction crews will tear up the existing surface treatment, grade the surface, add six inches of granular A crushed gravel and then double-surface treat (tar and chip) the length. Between the Sixth Concession and Blue Jay Creek on the 10th Sideroad, an area that is subject to bad seasonal flooding, the road grade will be raised by two feet.

This project will be done in concert with drainage works. From the Smeltzer Drain culvert under the 10th Sideroad, a drainage ditch will run down the west side of the road and empty into Blue Jay Creek.

Another culvert further south on the 10th Sideroad, which is prone to jamming due to beavers in the area, will have dual pipes installed and another west-side drainage ditch to an arm of the Blue Jay Creek. In concert with the two-foot grade raise, this is expected to eliminate problematic drainage patterns at that site.

On the Sixth Concession from the 10th Sideroad to Highway 6, the surface treatment will be torn up, graded and six inches of gravel added on top, followed by double surface treatment. There are two spots that may host culverts, but whether or not this is necessary will be determined in the spring once the snow has melted.

Westward on the Sixth Concession, from the 10th Sideroad to the 15th Sideroad, the same treatment will take place. There will be a guide-rail system along the Blue Jay Creek, because currently there are only posts in that area and they are not the preferred safety device.

The 15th Sideroad from the Sixth Concession will follow the same pattern. All rehabilitated road surfaces will have appropriate crossfall—that is, the gentle slope from the centreline down to the outside edges, so water drains off the road surface rather than pooling on top.

There will also be two dry fire hydrants installed into the Blue Jay Creek, one on the 10th Sideroad and another on the Sixth Concession west of the 10th Sideroad where the creek crosses each respective road. 

Dry hydrants are screen-ended pipes that go from the waterway up to a connection at the road level, which would enable the fire department to access water without having to run their hoses down into the wetland—a possibly dangerous action, especially in the winter.

“We’ve also put in our tender various replacement of culverts, ditching and drainage that may or may not be required—it depends on what we’re going to look at in the spring,” said Mr. Lucas.

The township will have the flexibility to remove unnecessary replacement items because the tender is being assembled in a modular fashion.

Each of the four segments of road will be tendered as a separate but co-dependent part of the project, so an entire section could theoretically be cleanly removed if issues of cost or timelines should arise. 

Further to this, each of the elements that have not yet been proven to be necessary, such as a culvert that is not nearing the end of its usable life, have to be costed as a unit. Thus, a prospective bidder will state what it would charge per culvert or per section of ditching, for example, and will add on those costs at a per-unit basis if that work is required for the project.

Mr. Lucas said the preliminary budget is close to the current funding allotment that the township already has set aside for the project, and should be able to accommodate most of the proposed work. However, costs may end up being lower or higher depending on what bidders can offer as a price point.

Councillor Rick Gordon said he was concerned with tar-and-chipping on the 15th Concession because of the amount of frost boiling up on the roadway after last year’s severe winter. The current road, he said, is built upon a corduroy road through a wetland.

Mr. Lucas said the proposed drainage work alongside the road construction is designed to mitigate those risks, but engineers could consider leaving the suspect area as a gravel surface if spring thaw would put the road in jeopardy.

“As I said, it’s very flexible; if we feel that this is just going to give us a headache and is not worth it (to tar and chip), we can put down eight inches of gravel so the guys can work it in the spring or whatever they decide to do with it,” said Mr. Lucas.

He noted that if a road segment which is scheduled to be rebuilt is still in good shape, there is room for discretion to not have to tear up and rebuild that stretch.

“I wanted to put everything in so there’s no surprises,” said Mr. Lucas. “This is everything—you can just pull things out from here.”

Roads will be built on the existing bases, which will allow 3.5-metre lanes and one-metre shoulders at their widest parts, but this may be reduced in areas of tough geography.

Councillor Michael McKenzie said he was concerned about the rapidly sinking east side of the 10th Sideroad south of Blue Jay Creek, and asked how that could be stopped. 

Mr. Lucas said the double culverts and ditching to Blue Jay Creek should redirect the water away.

“I don’t think you can run water uphill,” said Councillor McKenzie.

“This wasn’t our proposal, this was the drainage people,” said Mr. Lucas, to which the councillor replied he had raised the same concern to the drainage engineers.

Mr. Lucas said the grades presented by the drainage team indicated that the water should flow down to the creek.

“I’ll believe it if it ever happens,” said Councillor McKenzie.

The tenders are expected to be advertised as early as February 12 and open shortly thereafter, with the closing date planned to be March 4.

Once the tenders are closed, WSP will open them at a public meeting in case any contractors wish to be present. They will check that all of the bid bonds and all appropriate information is filled out to ensure a tender is valid. All valid tenders are then scrutinized mathematically to ensure the spending figures make sense.

WSP will generally recommend the lowest bidder, but all options will be presented to council. If a tender is the lowest overall but contains problematic figures such as one extremely high unit price, which could cause the project to run over in cost, WSP will note that as a potential issue.

Councillors Gordon and Lorie Leeson brought forth the motion to approve the preliminary design report as presented by Mr. Lucas, and approve the initiation of the tendering process. All voted in favour, though Councillor Eric Russell was not present at the meeting.