Council adds road to list for repairs

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.