Sarnia's Plank Rd. June 2, 2017 (Photo by Josh Boyce)Sarnia's Plank Rd. June 2, 2017 (Photo by Josh Boyce)

Plank Road project encounters a few bumps along the way

Construction work on Sarnia's "worst road" is taking longer than expected.

Phase one of the Plank Road project, from Indian Road to McGregor Side Road, is now anticipated to be complete sometime in mid-August.

The City of Sarnia's Construction Manager Robert Williams said the project is about a month behind schedule.

Work began this past spring after it was initially pushed back in 2021 due to supply issues.

"The water main is in the ground, we're in the process of testing the water main and then we'll be commissioning the water main in the next two weeks and looking to finalize paving," said Williams.

During this time, the McGregor Road intersection is closed to through traffic, as is Plank Road between McGregor Side Road and Indian Road.

The first phase of the project was estimated to cost about $3.3 million, however, there have been some price increases due to material costs and the operation of trucks and equipment.

"[It's] mostly related to the fuel prices that everybody's seeing and sometimes there are increases on materials," said Williams. "Suppliers are having a hard time holding on to prices on materials so there are some increases to our project cost but right now, we're still within our available budget."

As for the second phase of the project, involving a one kilometre stretch on Plank Road between McGregor Side Road and Gladwish Drive, it has been delayed once again.

Williams said the estimated cost of the second phase was about $1.5 million more than anticipated.

During the June 6 council meeting, city councillors approved a recommendation from staff to cancel the remaining phase of the project and proceed with plans for next year.

"We are going to be redesigning our phase two project to try to mitigate some of the costs, see if there are some significant design changes we can make to lower the cost," Williams said. "It was about $6.5 million for a kilometre of road and it was just something we didn't feel we could support."

Possible design changes include pipe cutting and pavement rehabilitation instead of replacement.

"In the first phase, the water main pipe was drilled in and that was partly to limit the disruption to the area so we could look at open cutting, which is a more traditional style of installing the pipe," said Williams. "We're also going to be looking at ways to rehabilitate the pavement that's there rather than create an entirely brand new road. All of those [options] are things that we're exploring."

It's also hoped that some of the supply issues (related to bottlenecks and increasing costs) will be somewhat resolved by next year.

"Right now we're having a hard time getting materials for anything. Our contractors are having a hard time with small items, to big items, to specialty items... It's a very tough time to be ordering material," said Williams.

Plank Road has repeatedly been named the worst road in southwestern Ontario through the Canadian Automobile Association’s annual Worst Roads Campaign. 

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