It’s two months overdue and nearly $1 million over budget, but the Queen Street Hill is finally done.
Crews reopened the street to traffic at 1 p.m. Wednesday. It ends five months of waiting for those who use this road that connects the Mountain and the lower city.
“I’m sure there are a lot more people more pleased than I am to have it done, that being their route home and to work every day,” said Gary Moore, the city’s director of engineering services.
“It’s not really anything new to have a project delayed. This one just happens to have higher visibility.”
Crews started work on the project in early June. The work included road reconstruction, new retaining walls, drainage improvements and the widening of the sidewalk at the top of the hill near the escarpment stairs.
It also included adjusting lane widths to slow motorists and installing rumble strips, and adding new LED street lights.
The original due date was Labour Day. The completion date was bumped to Oct. 18, then Oct. 31. A number of factors slowed the work, Moore said. Among them was the discovery of 40 butternut trees, which are a species at risk. In particular, one butternut tree near the street was resistant to a devastating strain of disease killing other trees.
The contractor, A1 Asphalt, could be fined up to $9,500 per day beyond the scheduled completion date. The city is negotiating with the contractor right now, Moore said.
The project cost about $800,000 more than the $3.7 million tendered for the project, he said.
About 20,000 cars a day travel the Queen Street hill. Some nearby residents actually enjoyed the traffic reprieve during the construction, even celebrating with a street barbecue, Coun. Jason Farr said. Other rely on it for their commute.
As for the delay, "these things happen," the Ward 2 councillor said. "That's why we write (financial penalties) into our contracts."