The city may be forced to put down some "sacrificial asphalt" and pull it up in the spring if road work isn't finished before winter hits.
Right now, there are four major projects and 12 smaller projects that need to be completed and most involve road resurfacing.
Taxpayers on the hook
If temperatures drop too low and the ground freezes, that's when the city is forced to pull the plug. Construction crews will then lay down a temporary two-and-a-half centimetre layer of asphalt, only to have it ripped up in the spring for work to restart. All of this will end up costing taxpayers more money.
'It's obviously not a great value for the taxpayer." - Mark Winterton, city engineer
"It's something that we would probably have in the contingency of the budget," said City Engineer Mark Winterton. "It's not something that is going to cause us a great deal of grief from a budget point of view, but it's obviously not a great value for the taxpayer."
Roads cannot be left unfinished
An unfinished, gravel road can't be left over the winter for liability reasons. But it also becomes a maintenance issue, especially for snowplows.
The challenge of when to pull the trigger on the end of construction season happens each year, Winterton said.
He adds it has nothing to do with poor planning on the city's part. Not all road work can simply start in the spring, all at the same time. Winterton said it would overload contractors and force the city to pay more if projects aren't spaced out.
"The industry is extremely busy and if they're very busy, the prices are naturally going to go up," Winterton said. "It's not as simple as saying 'why don't you just tender everything in January, start digging in April and complete it in September.'"
Pressure to finish projects
There's also pressure to finish projects by March 31, 2018 if the city wishes to cash in on government grants, although extensions have been given in some cases.
Ultimately, city staff watch long range weather forecasts to figure out how late into the year they can work before the weather turns. Asphalt can still be put down if the temperature dips below the freezing mark at night. It becomes a problem when the gravel is completely frozen.
Most of the projects are nearing completion, and Winterton hopes to have them done this year.
Current major projects:
- Tecumseh Rd. E, around Parent Ave.
- Cabana Rd. E, between Howard Ave. and Provincial Rd.
- Sandwich St. roundabout
- Ouellette Ave., at Wyandotte Street
Current minor projects:
- Janisse Dr.
- Moy Ave. (two separate projects)
- Arthur Rd.
- Seminole St.
- Hall Ave.
- Devon Rd.
- Malden Rd.