With work set to begin later this year on a four-year project to create a dedicated oversized load corridor in Sarnia and St. Clair Township, officials have organized a public open house Thursday to share details of the plan.
The session runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion on Albert Street in Corunna and will provide information on the first phase of the $12-million project.
Once completed, the corridor should reduce the cost and effort needed to move large industrial vessels and components through the community to local industries, or to Sarnia Harbour for shipping to customers elsewhere.
Sarnia and St. Clair Township are home to several industrial fabrication and service companies that build the components, as well as industries that purchase them both locally and from suppliers outside the area.
Moving those oversized loads through the community takes a fleet of support trucks and crews to raise overhead utility lines, adding to the cost and creating safety concerns.
The corridor project is designed to permanently raise utility lines, adjust intersections and improve facilities at Sarnia Harbour to make moving the loads easier and safer.
Lyle Johnson, who was hired last fall by Sarnia to manage the corridor project, said the first phase includes relocation of overhead utility lines in the areas of Plank Road, Churchill Line, Kimball Road and Petrolia Line, as well as minor work to widen corners.
That phase is expected to begin later this year and be completed by early 2020, he said.
Local funding is coming from Sarnia, Lambton County, St. Clair Township and the Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance, an industry group that began asking for the corridor several years ago.
“The community and contractors and the project are all working together to make this happen,” Johnson said.
A study carried out for the alliance said a dedicated corridor could boost the local economy by creating a significant number of jobs in the coming years.
The municipalities and industry pledged $6 million for the corridor and the federal government announced this month it would contribute up to $6 million.
“That was a major milestone,” Johnson said. “It solidifies the project.”
He said Thursday’s open house is being held in St. Clair Township so residents in the Kimball Road and Petrolia Line areas on the route, who are expected to be impacted in the first phase, have the opportunity to see what’s planned.
“If they have any issues, we can try to address them before they get too far along,” Johnson said.
Members of the project team will be there to provide information about the route, construction impacts, benefits and the anticipated timelines.
The full project has four road and infrastructure phases in addition to work to be carried out at the harbour, he said.
A second public open house is planned for this fall for residents and businesses along the route on Exmouth Street and Murphy Road, where the project’s next phase is planned for 2020, Johnson said.
“Phase one and two are probably the biggest phases” and address “the majority of the overhead infrastructure” along the corridor route, he said.