roads needs study

Council members debate road repairs, roads needs study

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Questions have been raised by council members over road repairs and the roads needs study thanks to a report about Angstrom Cr.

A report from the town’s public works department regarding Angstrom Cr. indicates that a re-inspection of the road now falls within the “1-5 Year” category for scheduled improvements rather than the previous “6-10 Year” category that it was originally listed as after an Oct. 2016 visual inspection. The most recent visual inspection was in July 2018.

Councillor Jason Lavigne questioned the roads needs study, done in 2016, and wondered how reliable it was if a road were to switch categories so quickly. Lavigne asked if there were other roads that would have shifted categories in that short of a timeframe and whether the town could be in a different situation as it relates to paying for road repairs.

CAO John Miceli reminded council they agreed to a 10-year program where $1.4 million is budgeted for reconstruction of rural and semi-urban roads as well as major resurfacing of the urban roads in the “now” category.

In response to Lavigne’s concerns, Miceli said Angstrom Cr. “could have been on the cusp” when the 2016 study was compiled and that the information contained in the new report is not alarming. Angstrom Cr. is a concrete panel road, Miceli stated, and that “it’s shifting and there are challenges with the freeze and thaw cycle.”

Councillor Rick Fryer said it took three to four weeks of complaints from residents of that Pointe West subdivision street to get the street looked at again. He believed the town “may as well make it a dirt road. It’s better than what they have now.”

Residents erected signage earlier this year along Angstrom Cr. to urge the town to replace the street. The issue came up again at the Sept. 10 town council meeting.

Fryer stated “the plan doesn’t work,” in reference to the roads needs study, and believed more investment needs to be made in roads, possibly with increased taxes or levies for roads, “but they need to be done.”

“We need to start paying attention to the residents,” said Fryer. “We need to change the mindset of what we’re doing because the $1.4 million isn’t working.”

Miceli responded that prior to the current council, there was no money that was pre-committed to roadwork.

“We’ve made great strides with this council in doing road repairs,” said Miceli.

Treasurer Justin Rousseau agreed, noting that $15 million has been invested in four years into roads. Rousseau did acknowledge that while the town is moving as quickly as possible, “it’s never going to be as fast as some may like.”

Fryer added that “pet projects should never come before a road.”

Councillor Leo Meloche believed there are roads in “horrible” condition, relaying issues from farmers who are concerned about equipment and heavy machinery tipping on rural roads due to the uneven surfaces.

“I don’t know if we’re catching up at this rate,” said Meloche.

Councillor Diane Pouget stated that she doesn’t want residents to think roads are being neglected but they are also not trying to raise taxes significantly. She noted that money had to be spent on other things as well, including flooding matters.

Councillor Joan Courtney worried that bumping up Angstrom Cr. on the list of priority roads could be “precedent setting” and that if the town were to repair it ahead of other roads listed in the study, how many people would come to council looking for repairs on their roads.

“We have so many roads that need to be done,” said Courtney. “The public works department has a big job.”

Angstrom Cr. residents fed up with condition of roadway

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Residents of Angstrom Dr. have had it with the condition of their road and want the town to make it a priority.

The roadway has fallen into disrepair with residents along the street, which runs off of Pointe West Dr., stating they and other neighbours have suffered injuries due to the concrete road cracking and heaving.

A group of concerned neighbours met with the RTT last Wednesday evening and also attended Monday night’s town council meeting. At the latter, council members voiced sympathy to the residents’ plight and will conduct a further investigation into the matter but some were quick to point out other roads need tending to as well.

Zane Handysides represented residents at Monday night’s meeting, telling town council “the road is getting worse as time goes on.”

“It’s becoming a liability for homeowners,” he said. “We just want our road to be repaired. It’s simply disintegrating around us.”

Handysides said they are “looking for a long-term solution” and “we need to get that road on the replacement side, not the repair side. The road is, quite frankly, embarrassing and I believe, unsafe.”

Residents recalled stories to the RTT last week of meeting with prior mayors and council members but not getting anything but patchwork to the road in return.

“I called 13 years ago when I first moved in,” said Nicole Sekela. “I couldn’t believe the state of the road.”

Residents of Angstrom Cr. are looking for
replacement of their road. They note the cement road is cracking and heaving and repairs aren’t doing anything positive.

Roger Racette, another resident on the street, claimed that he has had to replace springs and the sway bar on his vehicle twice due to the state of the road.

Racette said he brought a chunk of concrete to town hall before while said Sekela she called the town daily at one point to seek action. Sekela added that while residents in the rural areas have noise concerns over rumble strips, the cracks along their road make noise too.

“It sounds like someone has a flat tire when they go by,” she said.

Todd Laliberte believes the fact the road is currently concrete works against him, though neighbours believe it would just have to be cut six inches from the curb and removed. The residents say they are simply looking for asphalt.

The residents want Angstrom Dr. moved up on the town’s list of priorities for repair. Patching the road doesn’t work, they state, with Handysides stating last week that it eventually comes up and ends up on their front lawns.

“We’re not looking for anything special,” he said. “Just a normal, paved, asphalt road.”

“We can’t drive straight,” added Sekela last Wednesday, noting they weave around heaving concrete and holes to get off their road.

The road has dropped on the roads needs study, with numbers ranging from 170 to 183, Monday night in terms of where it is placed.

Todd Hewitt, manager of engineering for the town, said some roads are divided into several sections so the same road could be on there multiple times. He said the study was done in 2016 by an independent consultant.

“I’m not disagreeing that the road is in disrepair,” he told council Monday night, but added there are “a number of roads ahead of Angstrom Cr. in the study.

Hewitt gave a rough estimate of $350,000-$400,000 to fix Angstrom Cr.

Residents have been erecting signage along Angstrom Cr. to urge the town to replace the street. (Submitted photo)

Councillor Rick Fryer, who has raised the state of the road before at town council meetings, said the road is “pathetic” and believes it has been forgotten about. He said he was “sick and tired” of hearing of people getting hurt on that road.

“I got hurt on a section of sidewalk that wasn’t repaired by the town,” he reminded his council colleagues.

Fryer added that the town has gone down the roads needs study before and planned to re-do roads that were not at the top of it, citing Creek Road, though public works said Creek Road was second and fifth in the study as it was divided into two sections.

Councillor Jason Lavigne noted there have been recent pleas to look at other roads at recent council meetings, as Concession 2 North and South Riverview Dr. have been discussed at previous meetings. Lavigne acknowledged he is a former Angstrom Cr. resident and said the road is in “horrible condition.” He added his belief that previous councils didn’t spend the money they should have on roads and now the town faces a cost of about $260 million to repair them.

“There’s a lot of road issues we’ve inherited,” he said.

Councillor Leo Meloche agreed there are other roads that need attention, stating he knows of another road where he said Canada Post won’t even go down it to deliver mail.

“This council is trying to allocate funds to do major repairs and stop band-aid solutions,” said Mayor Aldo DiCarlo. “We definitely hear (the residents’) point and administration will bring back a report.”

 

 

State of Concession 2 North draws ire of councillor

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A member of town council is calling for action with regards to the condition of one of the town’s rural roads.

Councillor Rick Fryer said he has fielded numerous calls with regards to the state of Concession 2 North, stating there have been many temporary repairs done but not enough to ensure the road is in good shape.

“I don’t know how many repairs we’ve done to that road,” he said.

Councillor Rick Fryer has expressed concern with the condition of Concession 2 North.

Pointing out there is a roads needs study in Amherstburg, Fryer believed that Concession 2 North between Middle Side Road and the bridge over the Long Marsh Drain should be at the top of the list. He said “patchwork” repairs have been done and believed that residents who live and travel down that road should see major repairs and upgrades.

“Those residents deserve a new one,” he said of the road. “We need to aggressively fix that road.”

The bridge over Long Marsh Drain is scheduled for replacement this year. The bridge, located near River Canard, will be replaced at a cost of approximately $1.2 million and look like a modern bridge rather than the bow arch bridge that currently is situated there.

Most town roads will require rehabilitation within ten years

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town’s roads are OK now, but a lot of work looms on the horizon, according to a consultant.

Kyle Edmunds from Dillon Consulting appeared before town council last Tuesday night and presented an updated roads needs report and while that report deemed the roads to be in “fair” condition, it was also determined that 83 per cent of the town’s roads need to be rehabilitated within ten years.

To combat that problem, the town agreed to a plan that would see $1.41 million committed annually over ten years to road work to help combat the deteriorating road system and get some of the more urgent projects completed.

Of the 226.48 kilometres of roads the town controls, about 30.5 per cent need work now while 23.3 per cent need work in the next 1-5 years. About 29 per cent need work within 6-10 years while the remained don’t need work for beyond a decade.

Less than four per cent of Amherstburg’s roads are considered to be in “excellent” condition, as compared to 20.16 per cent in LaSalle and 15.6 per cent in Tecumseh. As for roads in “good” condition, there are 23.38 per cent of roads in Amherstburg in that category as compared to 45.82 per cent in LaSalle and 29.7 per cent in Tecumseh.

Amherstburg has 16.75 per cent of its roads classified in “fairly good” condition with just over 22 per cent of LaSalle’s roads in that category. Tecumseh has 25.5 per cent of its roads classified as “fairly good.”

As for roads in “fair” condition, 27.72 per cent of Amherstburg’s roads fall in that category, as compared to 11.31 per cent in LaSalle and 23.9 per cent in Tecumseh. Amherstburg has nearly 29 per cent of its roads classified as “poor,” as compared to less than one per cent in LaSalle and 5.3 per cent in Tecumseh.

Tecumseh has 181.4 kilometres of road while LaSalle has 187.56 kilometres. They were used by Dillon Consulting as comparators as the firm did roads needs studies in those two municipalities as well over the last few years.

Expect to see more construction signs over the next decade as the town’s road system requires a lot of work. Meloche Road (pictured here, earlier this summer before the road re-opened) is one of the more recent projects the town has undertaken.

Councillor Leo Meloche wondered why the entire focus was on repairing roads that need it now as he said some priority should be put on some of the roads in the 1-5 year category. The poor roads are already poor but the roads in the 1-5 year category will soon join them if not tended to quicker.

“We’re always chasing our tail,” said Meloche.

Councillor Diane Pouget said she didn’t want residents to think it was a “doom and gloom” situation, and added Amherstburg has more roads than Tecumseh and LaSalle.

“That does make a difference,” she said.

Provincial downloading also made a difference, she suggested.

“I think the municipalities started getting into trouble when the province started downloading to us,” she said.

Councillor Rick Fryer pointed out chunks of cement are coming off of Angstrom Dr. and Victoria St. S. is also deteriorating. There are heavily travelled roads like Concession 2 North that are also in disrepair, calling that road “a thoroughfare to LaSalle. It’s one of the worst roads but people use it.”

Traffic counts should not be the only factor in choosing where road projects should be done, Fryer added, as smaller roads need attention too. He said the town should focus on roads instead of “not needed purchases.”

CAO John Miceli called an increase to $1.41 million annually “significant” and said challenges will be ensuring there are enough contractors to do the work and what prices the town gets when projects are put to tender.

“I would suggest the market will indicate where we are going to be,” he said.

Miceli added he would like to see $120,000 in the crack seal program budget to prolong the life of some of the roads.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said the current council has done a lot of road repairs in its first three years.

“I think this council spent more on roads than the last four councils combined,” he said, noting Texas Road and Meloche Road have been upgraded.

Lavigne wanted to know “what will keep politics out of this” when choosing where and when projects get done. Edmunds said all roads have been classified based on a pavement condition index (PCI) and that shows what roads are in the worst condition.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale also stated that more roads have been repaired this term whereas “in the past, we didn’t do so much.

“Everyone has seen the number of roads that have been fixed in the last little while,” said DiPasquale.

The last complete roads needs study was done by Dillon Consulting in 2003 with a condition assessment update done in 2013.

Capital works program to include Pickering Dr. project

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A pair of big ticket items have been approved as part of the town’s $8.2 million capital works program, but not all members agreed on what roads should be done.

A debate was held during last Tuesday night’s budget deliberation session at town hall as to whether to do projects pertaining to Pickering Dr. or to resurface Angstrom Cr.

Capital works projects were debated as part of last Monday and Tuesday night’s budget session. Pickering Dr. will get some work this year, including the intersection of Pickering and Sandwich (pictured).

Capital works projects were debated as part of last Monday and Tuesday night’s budget session. Pickering Dr. will get some work this year, including the intersection of Pickering and Sandwich (pictured).

The town would agree to keep Pickering Dr. in the budget with that including resurfacing the road from King St. to Dalhousie St. and doing a watermain at the same time. Work at the intersection of Pickering Dr. and Sandwich St. S. is also planned for 2017.

Councillor Rick Fryer indicated he would rather see work performed on Angstrom Cr. this year, noting the street in the Pointe West subdivision has been in need of repair since 2005. He said there were 99 pictures sent to him of the condition of the road.

“There’s more gaps in that road than in any small street in Amherstburg,” Fryer contended. “I’m advocating for the road to be put somewhere into the budget.”

Fryer indicated he was willing to forgo the Pickering Dr. work for a year to get the work on Angstrom Cr. done.

Manager of engineering and operations Todd Hewitt said traffic counts factor into decisions and that Pickering Dr. is in poor condition as well as Angstrom. He said Pickering Dr. has significantly more traffic than Angstrom Cr.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said the town faces millions of dollars in road repairs and wondered if following up on the audit and finance committee’s suggestion to borrow money at low interest rates for some of the projects might be a way to go. The town’s approach to use money from the two per cent levies on road repairs would take “a 1,000 years to do,” he worried.

“Are these roads going to get done with the way we are doing business now?” asked Lavigne.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said funding of infrastructure is a big issue with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).

“Every municipality, not just Amherstburg, is in the same situation,” said DiCarlo.

DiCarlo continued by saying AMO is pressing upper levels of government for assistance.

“Without their help, we are going to be playing catch-up and trying to do what is coming up at the same time,” the mayor said.

Lavigne said he agreed with DiCarlo “100 per cent” but “we may be in the grave” waiting for help from the federal and provincial governments. He was also in favour of keeping the Pickering Dr. in the budget, particularly after learning the road reconstruction was being done the same time as the watermain.

“I don’t want to go to jail,” he remarked, in reference the province’s stringent rules relating to municipalities and their responsibility to keep water safe.

CAO John Miceli said the town keeps adding to its capital budget with it being at $8.2 million this year. If the town were to look at a “hybrid model” and try to borrow to do some projects, it would be a one-time capital infusion and not all of the work would be done.

Fryer believed it was “asinine” that people who pay the taxes like they have in Pointe West can’t get service, adding he has been told the condition of the road could lead to litigious situations.

Public works officials said Angstrom Cr. is not listed in the “now” category in terms of repairs and is listed in the 6-10 year category in terms of priority.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin told town council that liability increases with the number of vehicles that travel certain roads and said municipalities follow roads needs studies because unbiased firms give their assessments on the priorities. Miceli said council risks being scrutinized by ratepayers and even lawyers if the town goes out of order on the roads needs study, adding the town can walk into a court of law if need be and defend itself using the study.

Councillor Rick Fryer said he wanted to see Angstrom Cr. reconstructed this year. The street is located off of Pointe West Dr.

Councillor Rick Fryer said he wanted to see Angstrom Cr. reconstructed this year. The street is located off of Pointe West Dr.

“We can defend ourselves because we have a roads needs study to identify priorities,” said Miceli.

Hewitt also noted that if projects were deferred, it could lead to other delays with future projects.

The Pickering Dr. resurfacing is pegged at $200,000 this year with work on the Pickering Dr./Sandwich St. S. intersection calling for $337,700 this year and $412,300 next year in funding. The intersection improvements call for replacement of a traffic signal control cabinet, upgrades to the existing controller cabinet, the replacement of poles, signals and wiring where required and improving curbs, sidewalks and other amenities to meet accessibility requirements.

Angstrom Cr. is projected to be a $500,000 project.

Town council voted 4-1 to go ahead with the budget as recommended with DiCarlo, Lavigne and councillors Leo Meloche and Diane Pouget voting in favour. Fryer was opposed. Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and Councillor Joan Courtney were not in attendance.