Did you know Mill & Little Bridge Street upgrades / reconstruction will not start until 2017 or later?

Jill McCubbin2by Councillor-elect Jill McCubbin

The construction on Clyde Street (across from the Liquor Store in Almonte) had many people wondering about the “street upgrade” process – and when I was campaigning door-to-door, I was asked quite a few questions about Clyde Street and about the upcoming upgrade plans for our downtown streets: Mill and Little Bridge.

Residents (and I) wondered: will the processes be similar, what are the factors, the schedule, etc.

So, I asked our Town a few questions, and Troy Dunlop, Director of Roads and Public Works, emailed and phoned me to explain quite a few details, which I share in this article.

1. About Clyde Street – because the process there provides background to similar situations that may occur on Mill and Little Bridge streets:

The Clyde Street upgrade was a sewer and water main upgrade. The Clyde Street trunk sewer, with a 15″ diametre, was at full capacity and so needed replacing. The water main that runs down that street also needed upgrading. With water main commissioning, inactivity is necessary as the team awaits test results before proceeding.

Here are a few details I was sent by Troy about some of the Clyde Street process, which explains in part why the project took so long:

A water main must be pressure tested to 150psi (1 day), charged with super-chlorinated water to 50mg/l (1 day), flushed and charged with municipal water 24 hours after (1 day), sampled 24 hours later for bacteria growth (1 day) and re-sampled for a consecutive bacterial growth (1 day). These are prescribed public health actions to be taken as per regulations within Safe Drinking Water Act. Total water main commissioning is a 5 day process and lastly must be concluded on a day that a laboratory is open. Water services cannot be tied in until a water main has passed all bacteriological testing and is reconnected to the system (1 day) and it is commissioned as part of the overall system.

There were also actual project delays on Clyde street as well. These included:

  • The overnight theft of the generator for the sewage bypass pump (reported to OPP)
  • Unforeseen waterworks conditions on Queen Street near the front of the LCBO
  • Major rain days (translating into higher flows that were presenting risk with bypass pumping operations on the trunk sewer)
  • Rock removal depths that reached up to 16 feet (advance boreholes predict rock depth but it varies over the length of the project)

A good description of some of the preparations and project work from Troy:

I have been doing reconstruction projects for over 20 years. Its like surgery: we have to deal with what we see when we open up a street. We take proper and reasonable investigations beforehand to minimize risk, and I think that shows in our current budget situation. We pre-camera inspected the sewers, we inspected the basement of all homes with residents and we did boreholes to check rock depths along the street as part of pre-design activities.

Last word: As of Oct. 23, 2014, when I spoke with Troy, the Town was about 4 weeks behind schedule , but the project was on budget. Concrete works started Oct 24. Paving was tentative for the next week and has mostly been completed to date. The original schedule called for 13 weeks of work – the week of Oct 23 was week 16.

2. About upcoming Mill and Little Bridge street upgrades:

To help answer my questions about the schedule and budget for the downtown street upgrades, Troy sent me a PDF document – the Roads and Public Works Report from Oct 15, 2013. The full Oct 15 Report is available, on pages 20-23, at this link: .

For this Millstone article, I’ve included a screen grab of the summary of the report:

summary for MC EA dt Almonte possibly in budget 2015

As you can see, the only item in the project that is planned for 2015 (if approved) is to allocate budget ($150,000 based on the known project scope) for a Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (EA). The EA is required before renewals begin in/on Almonte’s downtown streets. This EA will take about two years to complete. The actual project (design, planning, scheduling and construction work) will not go ahead until after that EA is completed. A completed EA will render the project ready to qualify for grant opportunities – which we will need.

Also, as noted in the Report, public meetings and consultations with on-the-street businesses and other stakeholders (utilities etc.) will be held throughout the design / planning process. Troy specifically stated: “There are no commitments at present for the construction of the project. The costs for reconstruction will be determined by the preferred alternative developed through public / landowner consultation.”

There is no advantages to gain by rushing this project. The EA is necessary and will also help us get funding. All of the following items will be considered before the project moves ahead: traffic, transportation and parking, water distribution, wastewater and drainage collection, street lighting and streetscaping, geotechnical and environmental issues, and access to utilities.

One good suggestion, proposed by a Mill Street business owner, to approach getting community input into the project, is for the Town to host a “design charrette” once budget for the EA is approved/the EA is in process. The Ontario Association of Architects offers information for communities interested in organizing a design charrette at this link

Last word: I would support holding a design charrette and other public meetings on this topic earlier rather than later in the process – then we’ll have time to hold as many as we need.

(Note: This article was first posted, in a slightly different version, on Oct. 23 to Jill McCubbin’s blog here.)