Construction plans are being finalized for major improvements on one of Brandon’s main arterial roads.
Victoria Avenue from First Street to 18th Street is expected to be under construction for most of the summer — with a completion goal of Sept. 30.
Herb Mahood, director of regional operations with Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation, is asking motorists to be patient.
"Use caution and please be wary of all the workers that are going to be working on the highway," Mahood said. "We’ll try to get it done as soon as we can."
MIT and the City of Brandon are co-ordinating efforts to minimize the impact on traffic.
MIT will be replacing pavement along the 17 blocks of the province-owned Victoria Avenue, and sidewalk accessibility ramps will be added. All curbs, gutters and medians will be replaced.
Minor improvements are planned for the intersections at Sixth Street and 13th Street. The plan is to lengthen the left-turn bays, to improve the efficiency of the intersections.
"We’re trying to maximize the left turn lane, so there’s not a queue of vehicles that will block travel lanes when they’re turning left," Mahood said.
To accommodate these changes, some trees will have to be removed from the medians on Victoria Avenue. But exactly how many trees has not yet been determined.
"We’ll try to save as many as possible, but I don’t know how many are being removed," Mahood said. "The goal will be to plant some of those back in the boulevard or maybe plant some down on First Street."
One homeowner near one of the affected intersections, who prefers not to be named, does not want to see trees removed from the area.
"Trees add to the attractiveness of the city, healthy air, absorb noise. Large trees provide motorists and pedestrians with better visibility at intersections than do bushes or large pots," she said.
In the last 30 years, the resident says she has "never been unable to enter the turning lane to either turn north or south on Victoria" and "many times there is no other car waiting to turn. Turning lights would be more effective for traffic control and safety of motorists, pedestrians and cyclists."
But before MIT’s portion of the work can be done, the city will be upgrading the underground piping in the same area. Water mains will be replaced across and along Victoria Avenue, as well as storm sewer improvements.
"This became an opportunity for us to, at the same time, do any underground improvements that we had to do with our utility services," said Patrick Pulak, the city’s director of engineering.
At last night’s city council meeting, council approved the recommended tender for the work.
MIT recommended the low bid of Zenith Paving Inc., which is $4.84 million. The city’s portion for the underground work is $1.35 million, while the province would pay $3.5 million for the road improvements.
The only other tender submitted came from Maple Leaf Construction Ltd. The total was $4.89 million, however, the city’s portion would have been much less at $1.08 million. The second tender would have been roughly $263,000 less for the city.
Even though the city’s portion is more in Zenith Paving’s tender, the overall total is the lowest bid. Mahood said it’s the province’s policy to go with the low bid.
The city expects its overall cost for the project will be $1.45 million, which includes additional costs anticipated for engineering, ancillary costs and contingency. As the city only budgeted for $1.153 million, council approved an additional $297,000 be expended from the Water Distribution Reserve to fund the project.
"We’re asking for another allocation out of the utility reserve to make up the difference between what we budgeted and what the actual price was," Pulak said.
A start date for the project is not yet known, however, Pulak said construction is likely to begin this month.
"All I know right now is that MIT wants to begin this work as soon as possible," he said.
According to MIT, the schedule of the project will be established once a pre-construction meeting is held, which will be the next step.
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