Highway 89 (Queen Street East) project moving forward at $4.08-million cost

Roadwork tender awarded to Cox Construction for $3.63 million - plus taxes and fees

WELLINGTON NORTH – Cox Construction has been awarded a multi-million-dollar contract to complete the much-anticipated Highway 89 (Queen Street East) reconstruction project following council’s March 21 meeting.

Last year, in response to a successful Connecting Links Program application by the township, the province agreed to fund a maximum of $1.42 million of what was then anticipated to be a $2.14-million project, with the township on the hook for the difference.

According to township operations director Matt Aston, the project would see the rough Queen Street East road resurfaced after underground water, sanitary pipes and storm sewers are replaced.

The window of opportunity for companies to submit quotes for the job closed on March 14 with a single, over-budget bid from the Guelph-based Cox Construction received.

With a single bid there’s no room for competition or comparing quotes to find the most economic option and so, despite Cox’s $3.63 million bid being $622,365 over the $3.01-million budget for the project, township staff recommended them for the project after consulting with B.M. Ross and Associates, a Mount Forest-based engineering and planning firm.

The cost of the project increases from there once taxes and engineering fees are factored in, topping out at $4.08 million — $1,072,983 over budget.

“A significant portion of the additional [costs] are associated with the road portion of this project,” Aston stated in a report to council on the tender.

To pay for the overage, staff trimmed three road portions from this year’s asphalt program and recommended $1.07 million that would have gone toward them to bridge the gap between the approved Queen Street East budget and true costs.

The Capital Infrastructure Reinvestment Reserve Fund, Waterwork Reserve Fund, and/or unallocated Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund dollars could be tapped to pay for the remaining $2,983, if needed.

Staff provided four options to council for consideration:

  • proceeding with the project and shouldering the expense;
  • not awarding the project and cancelling the provincial funding agreement to reapply to another funding stream;
  • reducing the project’s scope and reapplying for additional funding; and
  • not awarding the tender and re-issuing another request in the hope of receiving more diversified bids.

“We need to move forward with this; there’s absolutely no way we cannot,” councillor Dan Yake said in response.

Councillor Steve McCabe echoed Yake’s remark, adding the cost was “like a sticker price that kinda forces our hand to pay for it … unfortunately this is the cost of business these days.”

“We gotta get this done and get on with it.”

Councillor Sherry Burke said she supported “just moving forward.”

“It’s a large price tag, but man, it needs to be done,” she said.

With minimal discussion among councillors about the project during Monday night’s meeting, council agreed to Cox’s $3.63-million bid.

The next step involves the township entering into an agreement with Cox Construction, which could take up to two weeks to accomplish.

Once the agreement is signed, the company will begin procuring material and depending on weather, Aston believes work could reasonably begin mid-May with project completion expected for the end of September.