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GRCA demands push culvert project into deficit

A portion of Bisch Street will be closed for a couple of months starting in early September to allow for the replacement of an aging culvert over Beaver Creek.

Woolwich council this week approved the $466,000 project, which came in $116,000 higher than budgeted for. The bulk of the cost involves awarding a $396,000 tender to McLean Taylor Construction. Having received $32,000 earlier this year to carry out the engineering design for the project, AECOM Canada will get another $21,000 to oversee the work.

The higher costs stemmed from a demand by the Grand River Conservation Authority that the design for the culvert be changed to a more expensive option.  As well, the road bed needs to be raised, an issue not foreseeable at budget time, said director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley at Tuesday night’s meeting, held in Maryhill.

Coun. Mark Bauman noted the shift to a so-called open box culvert versus the planned closed box structure adds another $100,000 while replacing the culvert with the same design that failed. He questioned whether the original design would have any more impact on the fish in the creek.

Kennaley said the township argued its case, but ultimately required a permit from the GRCA before going ahead with the project.

“In the end, we had to comply.”

Pointing to the extra costs, Coun. Allan Poffenroth  noted a bid disqualified on a technicality was more than $40,000 lower the winning bid, prompting him to ask whether the township’s tendering process could allow for some wiggle room to contact bidders to “fix up” their paperwork.

Director of finance Richard Petherick, however, explained the whole process involves sealed bids opened at the same time, adding the township is looking at ways to provide more flexibility for such cases.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Poffenroth of the current process. “We’re out $40,000 because of it.”

Weighing in to the discussion, chief administrative officer David Brenneman said the process involves some “very exact” language and procedures. Straying from them could potentially open the door to unsuccessful bidders making legal challenges, which could get expensive very quickly.

The township received eight bids for the work, a re-do after the first tender request two weeks earlier elicited just one informal bid, said Kennaley.

The bulk of the shortfall will be covered by taking $93,000 from the infrastructure reserve fund, money earmarked for a Floradale Road bridge project not going ahead this year. Additional funds will be found within the existing budget.

Work is due to start September 2 and be completed by October 31.

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