The $5.7 million in planned road and drainage work has been delayed until next year, while the Ministry of the Environment evaluates two requests from residents in the area to have a more comprehensive environmental assessment completed before work begins.
Provincial rules require the city to formally respond to the request, after which the MOE will make a decision. While bump-up requests -- as they are formally known -- are almost never granted, the process must be followed before construction can begin.
In effect, however, that means the road widening planned for Second – along with elevated bike lanes, sidewalks and a new traffic signal and turning lanes at the strip mall, cemetery and dog park – won't be done this year. In a recent email to his fellow councillors, Ward 7 Coun. Dave Kilgour wondered whether some road projects slated for 2015 could be done this year instead, using money allocated for Second Avenue.
“Perhaps we should consider spending that money to get a start on Maley Drive or perhaps Fielding Road,” Kilgour wrote July 9. “We have an abundance of projects that require large sums of money. Is it fair to the majority of taxpayers to sit on committed funds while projects are continuously delayed for a variety of reasons?
“I believe that we must move forward with projects that will bring Sudbury citizens the maximum return in the shortest time possible.”
Projects planned next year include $3 million for improvements on Barrydowne Road from Westmount Avenue to The Kingsway; $2 million for the Elgin Greenway (from Nelson to Cedar Street); and $1 million for improvements on Moonlight Avenue from The Kingsway to Bancroft Drive.
But Kett said that wouldn't be fair to taxpayers in Minnow Lake, who would risk losing the road upgrade through no fault of their own. While the plan may be to spend the money in 2015 instead, in reality, he said reallocating money for Second Avenue would put the entire project at risk.
“You never get that money back,” Kett said.
In any event, Kilgour said Monday he has been told by city staff it's too late in the year to try and fast-track the projects.
“There's a lot of engineering” and other preparation work that would have to be done first, Kilgour said, and there isn't enough time left for the 2014 construction season.
He's concerned that doing Second Avenue and the other scheduled projects all in 2015 will increase frustration for drivers -- and make it harder to get a good price from contractors.
“Which will, in the end, drive up costs.”