Paul Morden – The Observer, Feb 19, 2019 Construction is set to begin this summer on the first of five phases of a job-creating $12-million permanent oversize load corridor through Sarnia and St. Clair Township.
With half of the money in-hand from the city, township, Lambton County and an industry group, local municipal officials decided to get started on the work to permanently raise utility lines and adjust intersections while they continue to lobby the provincial and federal governments for another $6 million to complete the project.
Lyle Johnson, who was hired in the fall by Sarnia as project manager, told county council recently the first phase includes work on Plank Road, Kimball Sideroad, Petrolia Line and Polymoore Drive, as well as possibly some work on Exmouth Street.
He said approximately $2 million is expected to spent on the first phase which is expected to be completed by December.
The corridor is designed to make it easier, and less expensive, for metal fabricators in Sarnia and Lambton County to ship large industrial vessels and components to customers outside of the region.
Currently, moving an oversize load to Sarnia Harbour involves organizing a fleet of bucket trucks and crews to raise utility wires as the heavy loads maneuver through the community on streets with intersections not built to accommodate them.
Johnson noted during his presentation to county council that a study found a permanent corridor would reduce transportation costs and lead to additional sales of $9.5 million for Sarnia-Lambton industrial fabricators, while also creating and retaining a significant number of new jobs.
Sarnia has pledged $4.7 million to the project, with the county adding $1.2 million, St. Clair $75,000 and $10,000 from the Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance.
While earlier requests for provincial and federal funds to match the $6 million were turned down, local officials are hopeful new applications for assistance from the two senior levels of government will be successful this time around.
Johnson said they’re asking the senior governments for $6 million over four years and officials presented the project to Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s infrastructure minister and MPP in Lambton-Kent-Middlesex in January.
“We haven’t received any money yet, but we got a positive response,” Johnson said.
“We hope that we get some good news coming soon about the funding,” said Lambton Warden Bill Weber.
Johnson said the project includes work along a 27-km corridor through the community, as well as a new dock facility on the St. Clair River, at the end of Exmouth Street in Sarnia.
Work on the harbour is scheduled for the final phase of the project to allow time to secure permits needed for the building of a new dock facility designed ease the loading and unloading of large loads, including allowing the “roll-on, roll-off” of loads travelling by barge, Johnson said.
The city, township and county will individually oversee the work on their roads along the route, in coordination with the utilities involved, he said.
“We’re just in the process of developing a communication plan now, and we’ll roll that out probably in the next month or so,” Johnson said.
It’s intended to share plans about work on the corridor with residents along the route.