Fingers are crossed no more delays come up for the downtown project so Highway 3 can be repaved by the beginning of July.
Marg Coulson, CAO for the village, said contractors working on the $1.2 million project which was was 83 per cent paid for through grant money, are working towards having the project wrapped completely by mid-July.
“They’re working towards having the road paved at the latest by July 3rd and then there will be a few weeks of brick work that will need to be done but everything will be accessible. People might have to walk on sand but everything will be accessible.”
Coulson said the project has been a long haul for residents, merchants, village staff and the contractors.
The project was originally supposed to be wrapped up by May long weekend but delays because of cold weather in the beginning, and then finding a bone which created a mandatory assessment through the Heritage Act pushed things back. Then high ground water levels, which were virtually right under the asphalt, forced the contractor to change plans and rip up the roadway completely instead of just one lane.
“Because the water levels were so high they could not do things they way previously planned, so they had to move forward with another plan,” she said. “I think this crew has done a great job on this and have been really receptive to issues going on downtown.”
In addition to the flooding, which was the longest delay, a gas smell came up from the site of an old gas station site during the work. A mediation plan is in place, but work had to stop in that area as things were assessed.
Coulson acknowledged the delays have had an impact on businesses and residents and was grateful for people’s patience as the project continues and understanding that delays were out of the hands of contractors and village staff.
“We really do understand what the issues are and the impacts but having to do it all again, I don’t know what we would have done differently because so much was out of our control because the alternative was passing the extra expense onto the taxpayer and that’s not something we are prepared to do,” she said
A similar water main and beautification project was completed in Penticton this spring with the block opening just this last week. A portion of the beautification was paid for by the business owners on the street. The project forced the closure of 300 block for several months.
Coulson said although closing the street and detouring tourists would have made the project go faster, the village chose not to close downtown because the thought was having no traffic coming through would be more devastating for businesses.
Coulson said the contractor is working hard to stay on budget with the project, which means not having unnecessary workers on site and also limiting overtime.
“We could get them to work a lot of overtime to get it done but there is a cost associated with it. This budget is tight. All of our budgets are tight. We run things as close as we can because we’re very aware of how the costs impact the taxpayer and we don’t want to pass this along to them,” she said.
Coulson did note that the village staff has spoken to the contractor to ask for watering of the street at least three times a day to keep down dust, but also said by putting more water on the street that means more pot holes would be created.