The 1st Line of old West Garafraxa is absent from the township’s ten year plan for reconstruction or work, but council, in committee of the whole, moved it up on Monday.
The proposal was an initiative of councillor Walt Visser.
Public Works Superintendent Ken Elder and Treasurer Wes Snarr sent a report to council recommending it consider funding an engineering, surveying, soils investigation, and structure condition survey and legal search of the road.
The report stated the request came after complaints from residents, due to conditions there during spring thaw.
Snarr and Elder stated, “All gravel roads experience some degree of rough spring conditions because they cannot be graded effectively until after spring thawing and drying. Further, certain gravel roads throughout the township experience soft spots, frost boil, and rough road conditions during the transition from winter to spring.”
They concluded, “The severity depends on the spring thaw conditions each year.”
Visser said a survey would cost $40,000, the road base upgrades, culvert replacement and other work could cost up to $371,700, and paving and shoulders could add $209,300 to a total of $621,000.
Visser made it clear he was not asking for paving. He said residents want some corrections, and, “Spring is an awful time on them.”
The construction work could be done through 2011, with any paving in 2012, and he agreed, “By no means is the 1st Line the only one that experiences this.”
He said, “This road is not just a bad road in the spring – its impassible” He cited residents’ vehicles being pulled from the road by tractors.
Councillor Bob Foster wondered why Visser was stopping at Queen Mary, and said the entire road could be considered.
Elder admitted, “I have other gravel roads that are just as bad.” He cited the 2nd Line of old Nichol, and Jones Baseline, which was closed recently.
Councillor Fred Morris said he drove the 1st Line earlier in the day, and it did not seem too bad, despite the rain. He said there are poor roads in his ward, too, and asked why they are not in the ten year roads forecast.
Elder said they are “not a high priority.”
Morris asked why, but Elder was not prepared to offer details. He said, though, there is a three or four week period each spring “where they basically go to crap when the frost is coming out.”
Morris asked how Visser and Elder could justify residents on the 1st Line “jumping the queue.”
Elder said that happens all the time when people complain. Jones Baseline is not included in the forecast, either.
Foster argued the 1st Line can be an alternate route to Arthur during construction on Highway 6. “This thing is worse than the 2nd Line.”
Visser said the township paved South River Road last year when it got a grant, even though it was not part of the ten year forecast. He said it was a good project for the community, “but …”
Elder said the forecast is set by himself, working with staff and consultants, and they consider spreading work over the entire township.
There is no money in the year’s budget for a $40,000 study, and there are other areas, such as Melville and Princess Streets in Elora that can be repaved at some point because the township has done catch basins in that area. He said in West Garafraxa the township has been redoing east-west roads. The 1st Line is a north-south road. He said the 7th Line there was returned to gravel several years ago, and township policy is that road should be repaved when possible.
Visser said, “It can wait for a year.”
Several 1st Line residents were in the gallery. One of them said every spring, the road is the same. She added that road gets more traffic than the 2nd Line in Nichol.
Another complained about the 1st line in 2001 and wrote to the township three years ago, and nothing was done.
“We travel on roads in the northeast part of the county with no hydro lines – and they’re paved,” one resident said.
Yet another said the road is never plowed before 6am, and resident have to cope with two foot snowbanks, too.
Visser said, “I think the taxpayers of this municipality deserve a passable road.
Council then voted on the motion to start the study, with councillors Visser, Hallman, Foster, and Shawn Watters in favour. Morris and councillor Kirk McElwain were opposed.