You would be hard-pressed to drive anywhere in Greater Sudbury right now without coming across orange pylons and crews of workers in hard hats and orange vests.
Road construction season is in full swing with some major projects currently ongoing on some of the city's main roads.
The City of Greater Sudbury has closed 31 capital roads contracts this year, valued at $71 million and despite the need for some adjustments to how projects are carried out due to COVID-19, the city has been full steam ahead when it comes to road repairs and upgrades.
"Construction for roadways has always been deemed essential, so we haven't really slowed down with that," said Dave Shelsted, director of engineering services with the city of Greater Sudbury.
"Obviously we had to transition as a group to working from home on the city side, the contractors have had to change how they do things as well, but the changes have been more onerous on the contactors in terms of having a health and safety policy for specific sites and when we inspect the work we work within the health and safety policy that they've outlined for that site."
The 31 contracts that have been closed by the city run the gamut from main thoroughfares to side streets to bridges to sanitary sewer system improvements.
MR80 is currently under construction with crews replacing a number of culverts and resurfacing the road between Maley Drive and McCrae Heights.
Phase one of the four-laning of MR35 has been completed, widening the road from Notre Dame East to Notre Dame West. Phase two of the four-laning is expected to get underway this week between Notre Dame West and Chelmsford.
"We tendered the second phase of that and it's about to start construction to go from Azilda to Chelmsford and that's going to take a couple of years," said Shelsted. "It's going to be a new watermain and going from two to four to five lanes, that one is over $13 million itself."
The $71 million worth of contracts that were closed this year doesn't account for the city's carry-over projects that have been ongoing since prior to 2020, such as Maley Drive.
Crews are also doing road resurfacing and curb replacement on Brady Street from Keziah Court to the Brady Street underpass.
If you've driven Notre Dame Avenue to or from Lasalle Boulevard you've no doubt had to navigate the rows of orange road cones that have been put down as construction crews work on the Paris/Notre Dame bikeway active transportation improvements.
"We're doing some bikeway infrastructure from Lasalle to the Flour Mill area to allow active transportation for cycling to occur," said Shelsted. "It's between the curb and the sidewalk, we call that a separated bike lane."
A major focus for the city's roads infrastructure this year is bridges, with eight bridge projects on the books for $19 million. Greater Sudbury's bi-annual bridge inspection is scheduled for this year, as well, where an independent professional engineer will inspect and review the city's bridges.
"We've got eight bridge projects this year. The big one is the Vermillion River bridge, that's a big long bridge out on the west end of the city," said Shelsted. "Another is the Spanish River bridge, so Spanish River Road is going to be closed until the end of September (once the project starts)."
The city is also in the process of renewing and rebuilding some of its current infrastructure, including the Val Caron Booster Station, which will provide more reliable and consistent water pressure for Val Caron residents.
"We're also in the process of rebuilding our Levesque lift station and that's going to accommodate future development, and that's for the sanitary system," said Shelsted. "We have our Paquette-Whitson drain project, and basically we're putting in a very large pond, and it's going to provide stormwater treatment and flood protection, and we're actually installing 585,000 cubic meters of flood storage at that location."
The city has undertaken several asphalt recycling projects this year that have already been completed and the hot-in-place recycling project is currently out for tender.
Staff looks at a number of factors when it comes to choosing what roads will be selected for upgrades and repairs each construction season, taking into account road condition, underground infrastructure condition, traffic, development in the area and what roads are nearing the end of their current life cycle.
"In general we go through the asset management portion and look at those factors and come up with a list of those roads that we recommend for either reconstruction or resurfacing," said Shelsted.
"Obviously there's more needs out there than there's funding available, so that's been documented within long-term financial plans that have gone to council, and you'll have seen some of the talk about an infrastructure gap that's between what we need to renew and what assets we have from a total municipality perspective.
“The funding is a little bit short in order to maintain everything that we have."