Planners at SDG Counties delivered the bad news last week that the $4.2 million Morrisburg roundabout and street-scape would have to be scaled back. The project, which was put out for tender before Christmas, saw bids come in between $1.9 million and $3 million over-budget. The planned showpiece of a new main street for Morrisburg is the victim of rising construction costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan, which is to create this new main street between Laurier Drive and St. Lawrence Street includes a roundabout to replace a decades-old traffic light system. Ditches along County Road 2 are to be replaced with a storm sewer. Sidewalks and crosswalks to connect businesses on the north side of the road to the rest of the village, and improve pedestrian safety are also an important part of the plan. Visually the project will be transformative – a welcome overhaul of a shoddy design that was the result of the St. Lawrence Seaway project.
Because the tenders came in over-budget County officials say the scope of the project must change. The funding is $4.2 million and of that, 73 per cent is from the federal and provincial governments through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
SDG Counties and South Dundas are now planning a scaled-back version to tender the project in April. Completing it in 2021 is still the target. The roundabout is still going to be built regardless, but the street-scape will look different. This is concerning.
The initial project was planned with a refreshing amount of public consultation. With the compressed time line for a revamped project, there is a risk of public input on the changes falling by the wayside. Scaled back, this project may look like it was delivered ‘on-the-cheap’ thus short changing residents of this project’s intent.
Ideally, this project should not be revamped or redesigned at all, but instead changed to a multiple phase project. Do as much as possible of the original $4.2 million plan: the roundabout, the storm sewer, traffic lanes and crosswalks. SDG and South Dundas together need to firmly commit to finishing the job, with a set timeline to deliver the full roundabout and street-scape project as designed.
Long Sault received two roundabouts and a scenic street-scape, Alexandria is still redesigning its downtown and indications are that it will not be modified. These areas of SDG are not short-changed when it comes to infrastructure, but Iroquois already has its unkempt roundabout. South Dundas deserves its fair share and a well-completed transformative project, as designed. A project delivered ‘on-the-cheap’ will not do.