River Road bridge construction delays anger Ward 12 councillor

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KAWARTHA LAKES- “The fact of the matter is we all look incompetent with this project.” said councillor Gord James after hearing the River Road bridge construction would be not be completed until the end of June.

Council received an update on the project from staff at Tuesday’s meeting. One of the companies supplying goods for the project, Bronte Construction of Milton, went bankrupt in November, delaying construction.  “We were anticipating being done in October until we came up with these challenges.” said Juan Rojas, Director of Engineering and Corporate Assets for the City.  “We were hoping for the best but unfortunately we ran into some things we were unable to foresee.” Rojas cited the conditions of the soil when widening the road and the bankruptcy of a supplier as two of the main reasons for the delay but councillor James wasn’t buying it. “Again the Director keeps going to the bankruptcy and November, that doesn’t cut it with me and it doesn’t cut it with residents because we were to be out of there by then.”James remarked. The city put up a sign saying construction would be complete by October. “We’ve got companies on that road that are facing bankruptcy because they are losing business. We’ve got farmers on that road with farms on both sides of this bridge we walked across it yesterday in two minutes yesterday, it took 35 minutes to drive from one side to the other.” James said. Highway 35 is used as a detour.

Rojas says he kept the councillor abreast of the challenges they were facing along the way and that the City of Kawartha Lakes wasn’t the only municipality impacted by the bankruptcy. “It’s irrelevant how many municipalities were supplied by this company, what matters to us is what we told our constituents, what we told the businesses on that road and for the life of me I don’t get this.” James remarked, “Who’s responsibility is it to know what the soil conditions were underneath that road?” Rojas says they were aware of the conditions. “Through the design we knew there was unsuitable organic soil underneath the bridge, the bottle neck was the bankruptcy, as soon as the bankruptcy happened we scrambled to get another supplier.”  And by the time they found another supplier the weather conditions had grown colder and that meant they could not take the next step in the construction according to Rojas.

Rojas says the project has been pushed back to the end of June for completion. “We just have to wait for the weather to warm up in order to do some of the temperature related activities to finish the bridge, anything from concrete to welding to the foam essentially the frost has to get out of the ground and the water level has to be manageable.The end of June would be a realistic time frame to complete.”

However councillor James says he’s not holding his breath. “I don’t have much confidence if that your worship, I’ve heard its going to be two more weeks ten times, and the last time we will be opening up two weeks before Christmas guaranteed.”

 

If the project is not completed by the end of June it could face more delays. According to the Capital Closed policy at the city, they have 18 months to complete a project or it has to be sent back to council for an update. “This project was approved in 2017 and in accordance with the Capital Closed policy we have until June of 2018 to complete it, so we are still within that time frame.”