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Extensive consultation ahead of reconstruction of Elmira’s Industrial Drive

Given the disruption, extensive public consultation is expected as Woolwich Township gears up to reconstruct Industrial Drive in Elmira two years from now.

The project will have to juggle access to a host of industrial and commercial properties while completely ripping up the road and replacing the underground services, including water and sewer lines.

“It’s a very challenging project,” notes Jared Puppe, the township’s director of infrastructure services.

This year and next, the emphasis will be on designing and engineering the work, with council last week getting the ball rolling by awarding a $90,000 contract to GM BluePlan Engineering Ltd. to carry out that portion of the project.

The trick will be laying out the work in phases to retain access to the commercial and industrial properties along the route that spans from First Street to just shy of South Field Drive. The logistics include taking into account employee shifts and delivery times, among a host of other factors, said Puppe.

“There are concerns about maintaining access. We’re very cognizant of that,” he said.

Industrial Drive’s close proximity to Arthur Street, and all of the east-west roads connecting the two, increase the challenge, he added, noting the township is coordinating with the Region of Waterloo, which has plans to resurface the nearby stretch of Arthur Street. Just now, the region hasn’t confirmed its timeline for that project, however.

The current estimate for the township’s project is $3-$3.5 million. Some of the work will be covered by development charges, while the underground services – waters and sewers – will be paid for from reserves set aside for such work.

“We’re pretty comfortable where we’re sitting now,” said Puppe of the budget considerations.

The underground work will include replacing some of the last remaining asbestos-cement water pipes in the township.

As it stands, the asbestos-cement pipes pose no risks, but they’re being replaced as a matter of course when reconstruction work is being done.

“I’m not aware that we’ve had any problems.”

Of the 67.1 kilometres of watermain under Elmira, three kms is lined with asbestos-cement (4.5 per cent) – there is none of that material in the 62.7 kms of water line elsewhere in the township. After the reconstruction of Industrial Drive, as well as planned work on Duke, College and Bauman streets, there will be just 1.5 kms of such lines, said Puppe.

The reconstruction work will also include sidewalks and improved connectivity for pedestrians, for instance, he noted.

At a May 12 video council session, Coun. Scott McMillan asked if there would be provisions for cycling and other active transportation measures, along with the potential for a reworking of Industrial drive to encourage traffic calming.

“All those options are on the table,” said Puppe.

“Public consultation will be an important focus throughout the project. All affected residents will be notified of the planned construction work and will have an opportunity to voice their questions and any concerns they may have through a Public Consultation Centre, which is expected to occur in May 2021,” noted a report to council.

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