Lennox and Addington council considers funding options for deteriorating County Rd. 4

Reconstruction expected to cost $12 million or more

Adam Bramburger

Beaver Staff

Lennox and Addington County continues to grapple with the challenge of funding needed upgrades for a road councillors and staff have said is their worst.

At council’s working session Wednesday, councillors received a report from roads and bridges manager Chris Wagar detailing information he received about County Rd. 4 in a meeting with Ontario infrastructure minister Bob Chiarelli in January. Wagar reported funding avenues remain unclear as Chiarelli suggested the County apply for top-up funding under the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund, but it has already maxed out its eligible funding for Napanee’s Dundas Street reconstruction.

In his report, Wagar said County staff would look to find alternative funding to replace the road’s concrete surface with asphalt, a project that is estimated to cost $12 million — the equivalent of the County’s entire capital budget this year. Currently the project is slated for 2022-2024 in the capital plan, but Wagar indicated work might need to be done more quickly if deterioration continues.

Stone Mills councillor John Wise asked what the municipality is doing now to maintain the road and what could be expected in a worst-case scenario. Wagar said it depends on winter conditions, but currently the County spends about $25,000 a year for capital improvements and cold patches.

“We probably spend double the amount on maintenance on County Rd. 4 for cold patching versus an asphalt road,” Wagar said. “It is our worst road with our higher demand for maintenance.”

Wise surmised that if County Rd. 4, which was constructed in 1968, was asphalt, it likely would have been repaved several times and noted if any other road was 40 years old, it’d be a “similarly big mess.” He asked why a rehabilitation project has been so cost prohibitive.  Wagar said it relates to the structural base.

“There’s a clay base underneath the concrete and there’s only 10 inches of concrete because that concrete is reinforced with a wire mesh. In order to turn that into an asphalt road, you’d have to rubblize that and add extra granular because asphalt is not as strong as concrete,” he said. “To actually remove that and replace it with a concrete road… I don’t have that number, but it’s well above the cost of asphalt.”

Wagar said he was recommending asphalt construction because there are many more methods of rehabilitation that can be used to increase its life more cost effectively.

He indicated later this month Ministry of Transportation staff are expected to do a site visit and offer some of their own recommendations for the road. Wagar is also interested in receiving some information sharing from a neighbouring municipality. Prince Edward County recently invested over $150,000 in an engineering study for recommendations to replace its County Rd. 49, a concrete road of the same vintage as County Rd. 4.

Lennox and Addington chief administrative officer Brenda Orchard said she has reached out to Prince Edward Warden Robert Quaiff to if they’d share their research. She indicated Prince Edward is still considering a concrete replacement. If it receives funding, Orchard said that could bode well for County Rd. 4 dollars.

“It would be great if Prince Edward got money that we also get money. It’s the same construction and same year.” Orchard also said last week she spoke with members of a concrete producers organization urging the County about opening bidding for both construction materials. While a councillor or two might have scoffed at the suggestion, Orchard said there may be benefit in it regardless of what the County does.

“If you call bids for both, it motivates the asphalt people to sharpen their pencils a bit more,” she said.

Two members of council expressed hope the process can move along quickly.

“It is getting bad. I didn’t realize it was as bad as it is now,” said Greater Napanee’s Gord Schermerhorn. It’s a terrible road. I’d say it’s the worst road in the county. I hope something is done very shortly.”

Warden Bill Lowry shared the concern it could continue deteriorating quickly.

“I’m looking at that industrial park and Bombardier is making another expansion, there’s the traffic with TransCanada and Lennox and what’s happening in Millhaven with MTO. All of Hwy 33 is under rehab, basically from Coronation to Bath. The amount that is going to be down there this year — it’ll be pounded to hell, no doubt about it.”

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