Oversized load corridor could hold key to high-paying jobs

George Mathewson – The Sarnia Journal – March 17, 2016

Some 2,000-to-3,000 high-paying industrial jobs could be created if an oversize load corridor gets built in Sarnia-Lambton, a local official says.

This area is home to a cluster of metal fabricating and manufacturing firms that make pressure vessels, heat exchangers and large industrial “modules.”

But getting those oversize products to Sarnia Harbour and loaded onto ships for export markets is an arduous and expensive process, said George Mallay, general manager of the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership.

A detailed engineering study of the proposed corridor is currently underway to pinpoint what improvements are needed on local roads and infrastructure between St. Clair Township and the Harbour, Mallay said.

“Where do hydro lines need to be raised? If there’s traffic lights, what can be done to make them swing out or swing in. Are there culverts? How wide are the intersections and are the bridges high enough?”

It’s been nearly six years since a need was identified for a corridor to move oversize products. The process requires extra police to block off roads and utility crews to temporarily adjust hydro lines to allow trucks to get their load safely to Sarnia’s waterfront. A single move can cost companies up to $250,000.

Some of the bigger players include Kel-Gor Limited, Alliance Fabricating, ANJ Industrial, LamSar Inc. and Chemfab Industries.

Even without a corridor, some of them are already expanding operations and adding robotic equipment and staff. And aided by a low dollar they’re taking their sales pitches directly to Asia, Mexico and the U.S., Mallay said.

“At any of those shops you have all the trades – insulators, electricians, millwrights, pipefitters. The goal here is to create several thousand jobs if we can get these companies more work.”

Next steps include a market study and securing at least $3 million from local and senior government, he added.

“The Ontario budget contained a line about the need to improve oversized loads, and that was positive to see.”

Posted in: Headlines