City bulks up on road budget

  • Apr. 5, 2011 9:00 a.m.

City council has given the okay to pave McConnell Ave. from Thomas St. to Marshall St. this summer.

Council agreed unanimously to put more money into its road program this year during a lunch hour budget meeting today.

While mayor Dave Pernarowski and councillors Brian Downie and Carol Leclerc agreed during a budget session last night that putting money into the much-used road was a good idea, councillors Bruce Martindale, Lynne Christiansen, Brad Pollard and Bruce Bidgood needed the time to examine the matter.

The $2.2 million project comes with a sewer and water work, with $425,000 coming out of the sewer fund and $403,000 coming out of the water fund. The full road reconstruction includes McConnell being widened to a 10 metre standard, complete with bike lanes, and it’ll have concrete curbs, gutters, and sidewalks.

The money for the estimated $1.4 million cost of the road will be divided; $700,000 will come from the city’s equipment reserve fund that will be paid back over the next two years, while the remaining money will come from the surplus. There’s some extra money in the surplus this year with some departments coming in under budget, as well as savings from some projects.

Martindale said he’d support the idea even though he’d originally had concerns of borrowing against the next council.

I guess if we have to do a road…I’ve heard from a lot of people that it’s a very dangerous road, and they’re afraid to drive down that road,” he said.

Downie said he was comfortable with using the equipment reserve fund to work on the road.

I think that we have responsibility to react as cost effectively as possible to the conditions,” he said. “Given the public profile of this issue, I think that we’ve got an approach here.”

Leclerc said people have asked her why the city can buy land on the industrial development park by the airport if people can’t drive down city streets.

I think this is a good decision,” she said of redoing McConnell Ave. this year. “I think it’s a safety item now.”

Christiansen said it’s very enticing to push more road work every year, and said she’d heard some complaints about the road but also support for the city’s long term plan.

I don’t want to see us get backed into a corner and find something that we really need to do….but you don’t know what might happen,” she said, but said if the rest of council wanted to redo this road, she would support it.

Despite his uncertainty last night that this was the best option for the money, Pollard said he supported working on McConnell Ave. this year.

Improving the quality of our roads is, without question, something that we have to do, it’s a priority of council…McConnell is an obvious example of something that needs to be done quickly,” he said.

Bidgood had also been unsure if this was the best use of extra money, but said the issue is obviously important to Terrace.

Quite clearly, McConnell is a priority…so I am going to support this,” he said.

One of council’s priorities has been accelerating the road program. The average spending on roads has been around $1.2 million, and it now moves up to a $1.4 million average over the next five years.

This year, it’ll now be spending more than $3 million to do McConnell Ave. and Davis Ave.

McConnell Ave. was highlighted during the municipal election campaign in 2008 as one of the worst roads in town. The road was due to be worked on in 2009 at cost of $1.2 million, with the hope of doing this through a cost-sharing program with senior governments, but the grant to the city wasn’t approved. It had been pushed back to 2013 and then moved to 2012, but will now be worked on this summer.

Survey and design work on McConnell Ave. will start immediately, with work expected to start on the new road in late June.