Queen Street reconstruction Project faces budget and timing challenges

Project faces some logistical hurdles because of federal regulations

STRATHROY-CARADOC – The municipality’s ongoing Queen Street road reconstruction project has entered its second phase, but not without facing some financial and logistical hurdles.

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The project — critical for upgrading infrastructure along Queen Street — has faced budget revisions and extended timelines that sparked discussions among councilors at their May 6 meeting.

Mayor Colin Grantham began the discussion on the project update, emphasizing the importance of the motion to approve an additional $3.3 million for the 2025 capital budget, a figure corrected during the meeting due to a minor discrepancy in the reported amount.

Walter Easter, the municipality’s public works manager, clarified the financial oversight and outlined the complexities of the project, which have shifted the start date to mid-July 2024. According to Easter, this delay is due primarily to Department of Fisheries and Oceans regulations that restrict construction activities to protect fish habitats, marking a significant impact on the project’s timeline. Easter said the construction must start at the river to ensure proper drainage during the process, an approach dictated by common construction practices.

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Further complications include the integration of a new storm sewer system and the completion of the headwall at the Sydenham River, with the full reconstruction of Arthur Street anticipated to follow swiftly. Depending on progress, additional work across Metcalfe may begin before year’s end, with a firm requirement that any completed sections be restored to hard surface for the winter season.

Coun. Steve Pelkman raised concerns about the extent of the drainage area affected by the new sewer systems, underlining the need for precise details on the storm catchment areas. Coun. Greg Willsie questioned the phased construction approach, which seems to have led to a disjointed drainage solution from earlier phases of the project.

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Budget concerns were a focal point of the discussion, with Easter and treasurer Bill Dakin addressing the financial implications of the project. The updated construction costs are estimated at $11.3 million, surpassing the initial budget and requiring additional council approvals.

Some advisors expressed frustration over the project’s evolving scope and costs. Coun. Brian Derbyshire criticized the project management, pointing out that council had initially moved quickly to approve funding under the assumption that construction would start sooner. He noted the project was now over budget and delayed, and suggested a more cautious approach to future phases.

The meeting concluded with council approving the additional budget, but with reservations about future financial adjustments and project timelines.

David Gomez is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the Middlesex Banner. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

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