By Kevin Werner, News Staff
The beleaguered Queen Street Hill reconstruction project will take another few more weeks to be completed.
Director of Engineering Services Gary Moore said weather, and the difficulty of pouring concrete up the hill has forced the city to keep the busy roadway closed until after Nov. 1.
“We are meeting with (the contractor) daily,” said Moore. “The concrete road base is a very labour-intensive work.”
He said city officials decided because of the type of work involved, the hill has to be closed to traffic.
Mooredid say the four days of wet weather earlier this month did put the project behind again. But the contractor has people working on the weekend to make up for the lost time. He didn’t want to identify a finished date, but hopes the project is completed by mid to late November.
Still, city officials have warned the contractor his performance will be reviewed by the city once the $4.3 million project is completed. Moore said the contract provides incentives for the company to finish the work ahead of scheduled. But if the work misses the deadline, there are disincentives built into the contract as well that could result in the contractor paying the city about $7,500 per day.
A frustrated Ward 8 councillor Terry Whitehead apologized to residents for the delay.
“In some countries there would be a riot,” he said.
This is the second delay for what city staff has been calling a complex project because of the “unique characteristics” of the escarpment cut.
The project began on June 3 and was scheduled to be completed by Labour Day to avoid the crush of new students attending Mohawk College and Hillfield-Strathallan College. The hill, also known as Beckett Drive, accommodates about 20,000 vehicles per day.
The work involves repairing the road, installing new retaining walls, drainage improvements, and widening the sidewalk at the top of the hill. The hill is closed between Glenfern, south of Aberdeen to Fennell Avenue.
In July, city staff announced the project wouldn’t be completed until mid to late October because of retaining wall problems, and issues with about 40 butternut trees. City staff had extensive discussions with Ministry of Natural Resources staff about the endangered trees. City officials said they didn’t know about the trees before they began work.
City staff also discovered the 50-year-old retaining walls needed to be replaced, or strengthened, which took extra time.
“The contractor is doing the work,” said Moore.