While the economic recession cast its cloud over Wellesley, it had the proverbial silver lining: the township has used stimulus dollars from upper levels of government to tackle road projects that have been on the wish list for years.
“They’re long overdue,” said public works director Will McLaughlin. “It’s brought the Township of Wellesley at least 10 years ahead, maybe more.”
The township has also been lucky in that a number of those projects are now wrapping up ahead of schedule.
The $2.2-million road reconstruction project in Hawkesville that got underway last fall is nearly complete, with only surface paving that will be done next year remaining.
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East of Hawkesville, contractor Steed and Evans has finished ditching and paving a 3.8-kilometre section of Broadway and Steffler roads.
On Weimar Line, replacement of the 1941 bridge is nearly complete. McLaughlin is hoping the span will be paved before school starts Sept. 8.
The Weimar Line bridge was one project that could have easily been derailed by the storms that have rolled through the region this summer, but each time the wild weather missed them.
“We were very vulnerable there a couple of times with the footings dug out and not poured yet … and thank goodness it bypassed us.”
Still more projects are still in the works: handrails on the Seigner Bridge on Deborah Glaister Line are being replaced, and the pavement extension on Hessen Strasse and Weimar Line will be sent out to tender shortly.
All of the construction projects together carry a hefty tab of $6 million. Other than the reconstruction of Hawkesville, which was covered by the province’s Municipal Infrastructure Investment Initiative, funding for the projects has been split equally between the federal, provincial and municipal governments. That works out to $2.5 million in grants, with Wellesley on the hook for the other $1.3 million.
The township is covering its share with gas tax funds and money saved by being frugal over the years.
McLaughlin noted that the township is still waiting to hear back on the results of another grant application for work on Streicher Line from Hutchison Road to the boundary with Perth County.
“It’s like a lottery,” he said. “You wait and see if you’re picked, if the powers that be in the federal and provincial government like what you’re presenting and decide it’s a worthwhile project.”
The public works director explained that the township focuses on improving roads that will benefit the township economically, either because industries are located along them or because they’re transportation corridors to other centres.
“They’re all roads that we would have done ourselves anyway, we just don’t have the funding up here to do them.” “They’ve been on the list for years under the title of someday, and now’s the time, apparently.”