“Hopefully soon,” said Jérémie Bouchard, public works director for the United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR), during a phone interview. “This is all subject to MTO’s approval.”
Bouchard presented UCPR council with an updated report May 11 on the plan to replace the east and west culverts on County Road 17 near the East Hawkesbury Airport. Both the schedule for the project and the final cost hinge on whether or not that section of the county road will be closed to all traffic for the duration of the work or if single-lane controlled traffic is allowed.
The UCPR 2022 budget included $1.75 million for the project. But the lowest bid received during the public tender call 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 single-lane alternating traffic. 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 would allow completion of the project within about four weeks compared to a possible 10 weeks with partial closure the road and single-lane traffic allowed.
The last traffic count study for that section of County Road 17 indicated about 9300 vehicles, including heavy trucks, passed back and forth on the route. The mayors for both Champlain Township and East Hawkesbury Township expressed concern about heavy truck traffic on the original proposed detour route along Gourley Road.
Bouchard’s staff reviewed the project again and developed an alternative detour route proposal. Bouchard has sent the alternative route to the Ministry of Transport (MoT) for review and approval.
The new route proposed would have all westbound traffic to Hawkesbury detoured away from the County Road 17 off-ramp from Highway 417. Traffic would follow the highway instead to the Highway 34 off-ramp. From there westbound traffic would pass through Vankleek Hill and continue along Highway 34 to the off-ramp onto County Road 17 at the Hawkesbury Bridge overpass. Eastbound traffic would follow the same route in reverse from the overpass onto Highway 34, through Vankleek Hill and onto Highway 417.
Pattee Road parallels County Road 17 through Champlain Township. Bouchard noted that signs would be posted at the entrances to Pattee Road stating that it is closed to tractor-trailer trucks and other types of heavy vehicles.
UCPR council voted to have Bouchard go ahead and confirm the project contract with Arnco Construction and Excavation on condition that the final terms of the project schedule and budget will depend on the MoT’s decision on the proposed detour route.