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Council approves $1.9 million for reconstruction of two Elmira streets

Exceptionally wide right now, College and Bauman streets in Elmira will be narrowed to a standard aspect when they’re reconstructed next year.

The standard urban cross-section was approved as Woolwich council this week agreed to spend $1.9 million to reconstruct the two roads as the next phase of this year’s reconstruction of Union Street. Currently dead-end streets, both will be extended to Union Street in advance of a proposed residential development on the former apple orchard site fronting on Union.

The standard roadway in Woolwich Township is nine metres wide. Today, Bauman Street is 11 to 12.8 metres in width, while College is even wider at 13.5 to 14.5 metres. Both streets are in poor condition, with resurfacing long overdue, having been on the township’s radar for some years – the current design parameters date back to 2019.

As part of the full reconstruction, the street will have curbs and gutters, sidewalks on both sides, new sanitary and storm sewers and wider boulevards.

Right from the start, however, a number of residents on both streets had contacted the township to voice concerns about the narrowing of the pavement width. Among them was College Street resident Darren Erb, who last week addressed councillors and called for the current widths to be maintained.

“This is a unique wide and dead-end street,” he said of the place where he lives, noting many of the roads in new subdivisions are too narrow and don’t allow enough space for parking.

With both Bauman and College slated to become through roads between Duke and Union streets, the new design is “an appropriate cross-section,” argued director of infrastructure services Jared Puppe.

Following last week’s presentation, engineering staff met last Friday with residents in an informal gathering on College Street.

“Staff took this as an opportunity to educate the residents. We understood that there were concerns with the narrow pavement due to the urbanization, and staff wanted to get out there and explain to residents why we are looking for that cross-section,” engineering project supervisor Ryan Tucker told councillors meeting Tuesday night, noting new features such as wider boulevards will provide more space for snow storage, for instance.

“We understand why residents are asking for wider pavement, but staff are sticking with the standard cross-section for operational efficiencies.”

Coun. Patrick Merlihan, who attended the December 3 gathering, said some 10 residents showed up, with staff doing a good job explaining the rationale for the changes.

 “I ended up learning more about the reasons behind staff’s recommendation, and I think by the end of it the residents were very appreciative of the opportunity to engage with staff. I think some people they at least understand – some of them still want a nice, wide street, and I understand that,” said Merlihan.

“I feel better about that, and I think the residents feel better too. We can’t please everybody, and I think it is the best recommendation.”

The work is slated to be carried out next year by the same contractor, Breslau-based J. Weber Contracting Ltd.

Tucker noted the two smaller roads were originally to be reconstructed as part of the Union Street project, but uncertainty over the Hawk Ridge Homes subdivision led the township to separate the two. The contractor has agreed to similar unit pricing for next year’s project, though with some increases to reflect the rising cost of concrete and asphalt.

In response to a question about the increased supply costs from Coun. Larry Shantz, Tucker said checks show the contractor’s increases are reasonable.

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Seven days. One newsletter. Local reporting about people and places you
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