By Stephen Dafoe
Sturgeon County – County Council unanimously approved moving forward with its upgrades to Township Road 554 (Cardiff Road) at its Apr. 10 meeting. Council unanimously approved an additional $1,636,000 for the reconstruction project and awarded the tender to Oil Berta Cats Ltd., one of seven companies who bid on the project.
The project, originally intended to upgrade Cardiff Road from Highway 28 to Range Road 251, will now see those upgrades extend from Highway 28 to just east of the railroad tracks, approximately half a kilometre shorter than originally intended. The purpose of the change in scope for 2012 work is to support a potential Cardiff bypass in the future should it be determined one is needed. Council have previously discussed concerns the proposed Cardiff Road overpass at Morinville could result in increased commercial traffic through the hamlet. A bypass could be one way the County chooses to mitigate the impact of traffic on Cardiff residents.
Higher than budgeted costs
Sturgeon County Council had previously approved $4.1 million for the project in their 2012 budget; however, bridge and utility work have raised that figure to an estimated $5.7 million or approximately $889,000 per kilometre.
A recent moratorium on development in the Cardiff area raised some question with some members of Council as to the wisdom of the project.
Councillor David Kluthe said he was not sure if it was a wise decision to pave the road just for residents of Cardiff when a moratorium is in place and there is some thought to divert the road around Cardiff at some point in the future. Actual paving is set for 2013 not 2012. Mayor Rigney had similar concerns. “The overpass seems to be up in the air,” he said. “We do have a moratorium on development.” Rigney went on to ask how much taxes the County gets from Cardiff, a question Administration was not able to completely answer immediately. “I have trouble approving this with a moratorium in place,” Rigney said, adding he was also greatly concerned by a 40 per cent increase to the project.
Administration has identified the increases as being related to bridge and utilities work. Funding for the $460,000 in bridge work is set to come from a debenture at 2.769 per cent over 15 years, a cost of approximately $37,682 year. Grading, land acquisition, utilities, engineering and other costs will covered by Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding from the province.
Paving of the road is targeted for 2013 at an estimated cost of $4.5 million.