Nova Scotia

Councillor defends growing cost of Bayers Road widening project in Halifax

Councillors approved another $692,000 for the work on Aug. 17. Coun. Shawn Cleary says the project's benefits outweigh its growing budget.

Coun. Shawn Cleary says there are 'a lot of moving parts' to the project, which has nearly doubled in cost

Vehicles move through construction on Bayers Road in Halifax on Aug. 24, 2021. The widening of Bayers Road began with the demolition of multiple houses on the street, which is one of the main arteries to and from the city. (Robert Guertin/CBC)

A Halifax councillor says the benefits of a multimillion-dollar project to widen a main route leading into the city outweigh its growing budget, which has nearly doubled from original estimates.

While some of the money for the Bayers Road widening project is for unforeseen costs such as moving retaining walls, part of the increase is due to extra work being done by third parties.

"This project has Nova Scotia Power moving poles, Halifax Water moving pipes and separating services," Coun. Shawn Cleary said at a recent council meeting. "There's a lot of moving parts to this."

Extra $692K approved

Councillors approved another $692,000 for the work on Aug. 17. The construction includes bus-only lanes, bike lanes and new sidewalks. Phase 1 is taking place between Romans Avenue and Connaught Avenue in the city's west end.

Coun. Paul Russell said he's concerned about the overall cost of the project, not just this latest increase.

"The budget forecast to completion is now $8.5 million," said Russell. "This is approaching twice what the approved budget was last year."

A construction sign asking drivers to use an alternate route is seen on Bayers Road on Aug. 24, 2021. (Robert Guertin/CBC)

But Cleary said the increasing cost is worth it because of the transit corridor that's being created to connect Bayers Road to Young and Robie streets.

"This is going to make a huge difference," he said.

Behind schedule, over budget

Coun. Lindell Smith asked about the cost of Phase 2 of the project, which is along Bayers Road between Connaught Avenue and Windsor Street.

Vehicles and construction pylons are seen on Bayers Road in Halifax on Aug. 24, 2021. (Robert Guertin/CBC)

The original estimate was $2.5 million, but municipal staff said the budget will have to increase to $4.7 million because of current market conditions.

Phase 2 was supposed to get underway next year, but is being delayed until 2023.

"That's based on some land acquisition scheduling that we've got happening now," said HRM manager Ann Sherwood.

Municipal officials are meeting with various property owners who are affected by the work.

While land negotiations take place, temporary bus-only lanes will be painted on Bayers Road between Connaught and Windsor so transit can use the new corridor.