The United Counties of Prescott-Russell council (UCPR) agreed during its April 27 session to postpone its decision on the matter. The delayed decision will give the UCPR public works department time to gather more information on the impact on traffic from the proposed project and also allow UCPR Public Works Director Jérémie Bouchard a chance to make a presentation on the project to East Hawkesbury Township council at its next regular meeting.
Replacement of the east and west culverts was to take place this year and the UCPR 2022 budget included $1.75 million for the project. But the lowest bid received when the project went to public tender was from Arnco Construction and Excavation at more than $2.1 million.
An engineering consultant review of the bid indicated the main reason for the higher cost was the demand to keep the county road open for traffic. This would be done by means of a traffic-controlled single lane. When asked, the contractor provided a revised bid of about $1.3 million for the project with full closure of part of County Road 17 to traffic.
Full closure of part of the county road would mean completing the culvert replacement project within about four weeks compared to a possible 10 weeks with partial closure of County 17 to just one-lane alternating traffic.
The last traffic count study for that section of County Road 17 was in 2015 and indicated about 9300 vehicles, including heavy trucks, passed back and forth on the route. If the county road was closed, the detour route proposed to handle heavy truck traffic would be along Gourley Road. Both Mayor Robert Kirby of East Hawkesbury Township and Mayor Normand Riopel of Champlain Township expressed concern about the detour route.
If UCPR council decided on the partial closure option for County Road 17 to allow the culvert replacement project to go ahead, Director Bouchard indicated in his report that cancellation of some other road works projects would be necessary to deal with the extra expense.
Council voted to defer a decision on the project to give Bouchard and his staff more time to review the two options for dealing with traffic needs for County Road 17 during the culvert replacement work. Mayor Kirby will also bring the issue before his council during its scheduled May session so the township can take an official position on the subject.