CORNWALL – It is a road closure that has been planned for years, but is still raising the ire of South Dundas representatives at SDG Counties Council.
At their May 16 meeting, council approved the tender to replace the large culvert on County Road 2 where it crosses Doran Creek, east of Iroquois. The planned replacement includes the major east-west connector road closing for up to two weeks for the project.
“I understand this is the most economical way of doing it but you are closing down a major route,” Councillor Steven Byvelds (South Dundas) told council. “I know it’s been done in other places but 14 days is long time for that road to be shut down, and there’s no other way to go.”
For the two week construction period, traffic between Morrisburg and Iroquois will be detoured via County Roads 31, 18, and 16. This will add 21 kilometres to the normally 12 km trip. A shorter detour via Municipality of South Dundas roads was not recommended due to the surface treatment on those roads, and traffic volumes. County Road 2 is an Emergency Detour Route for Highway 401 in the event of a closure, which Byvelds said is an even bigger concern.
“If it ever happens, that will spell trouble turning at Dixon’s [Corners]. So there are lots of challenges with shutting this road down on a full scale. I’m not really comfortable with that,” he said.
SDG Director of Transportation Ben deHaan suggested that road closures for local traffic only with earlier signage could possibly be used. He added that given the size of the Doran Creek project, he did not want to imagine what the cost of a staged replacement (one side, then the other) would have been.
“It’s something we can have a discussion with the contractor about to see if it is feasible, but I don’t know if it is,” he said. “I recognize this is a crappy detour but we’ve picked a long route to be safe.”
SDG’s contract with the Coco Paving to install the new culvert includes an incentive clause for completing the project sooner than the 14-day window, and penalties if there are delays past the deadline.
“It’s worked very well in the past to keep feet to the fire to get the job done,” deHaan explained to council. “It’s a local contractor and I have every confidence that they will be able to do it within the time we tell them.”
deHann said he expects that while there is a 14-day window for the project, it should take about 12 days to complete.
Coco Paving was the lone bidder for the project tender, which also includes replacing the culvert on Lakeshore Drive near the Two Creeks Conservation Area. Both culverts were purchased by the Counties already. Still the project is $300,000 over budget due to increased materials and labour costs. That over-run will be paid through the Counties’ bridge reserve.
Construction is expected to begin sometime after July 15 and must be finished by August 31 so as not to disrupt the return to school in the fall.
Councillor Kirsten Gardner echoed her South Dundas colleague’s concerns about the inconvenience and potential truck traffic issues, and the impact on tourism.
“I know it’s only two weeks but we’re adding 21 kilometres to a trip. With the price of gas, people are sensitive about driving. We are effectively adding a toll,” she said. “I know it’s necessary and it’s a big project, but that’s a massive detour.” SDG staff will work with South Dundas officials on planning for the closures.