Delayed Clarence Street road work to begin in April

·4 min read

Aylmer councillors awarded the delayed Clarence Street reconstruction project to St. Thomas-based Elgin Construction Company Ltd. for $1,495,594.

Upgrades will cover Clarence Street from John Street South to approximately 55 metres west of Dufferin Street.The project includes the installation and construction of the sanitary sewers, storm sewer, watermain, curb and gutter, sidewalk, road base and asphalt surface.

The project was originally planned for 2019, then delayed a year due to budget concerns, and last year was pushed back another year because of difficulties related to the pandemic.

Construction is anticipated to begin in April. Council discussed the matter at a virtual meeting on Monday, March 15.

“As council will recall, we were scheduled to tender this last year right at the very start of the pandemic,” said Operations Director Rob Johnson. “Nobody at that time really knew the scope or breadth of this pandemic and how it would affect our operations, so we hit the pause button.”

The town waited a year, and issued the tender on Feb. 3, 2021 an online municipal procurement website.

They received five tender submissions, with the only “compliant” bidder, Elgin Construction, named. “Unfortunately a number of them had significant irregularities that only one, really, is a sole bidder, if you will,” said Mr. Johnson.

A review of the tenders from Cyril J Demeyere Limited, a Tillsonburg-based consulting engineer, stated some of the irregularities causing tenders to be disqualified included omitting signed addenda, non-digitally verified bonds, not including an agreement to bond, and/or not meeting 60-day validity period on agreement to bond.

The five submitted tender amounts, from lowest to highest were: $1.25-million, $1.26-million, $1.43-million, Elgin Construction at $1.50-million and $1.55-million.

The bid from Elgin Construction exceeded the 2019 construction estimate for this project, wrote Peter Petter of CJDL, though the report didn’t state the previous estimate. (Aylmer had budgeted $1.24-million for the project last year.) He said this increase was because of the additional storm sewers and inflation.

“Elgin Construction has successfully completed several projects in the Town of Aylmer and for CJDL,” wrote Mr. Penner, listing the 2009 Andrew Street reconstruction contract and 2013 John Street North Watermain as examples.

Given the number of bid irregularities leading to one sole tender, council may wish to re-tender the project for more options, said Mr. Johnson. That would either involve a significant change in the scope of the project, or to delay the project.

“I don’t think the rescope is really in the best interest of the town nor the delay,” said Mr. Johnson. “In my experience, there’s been very few instances where I’ve reissued a tender and it’s resulted in lower prices down the road.”

Councillor Pete Barbour asked what the budgeted amount for the Clarence Street project was. Mr. Johnson said he believed the amount was $1.5-million.

Cr. Jamie Chapman asked what the intended start date for construction was. Mr. Johnson said the project would start in April, and have a September completion date.

According to the report, the preferred start date is April 5, with a completion date of August 31. An allowance may be made for an extension to the completion date for some items.

Cr. Chapman asked if the entire area would be done at once, or if it will be completed in sections.

“Construction usually progresses block by block,” responded Mr. Johnson, and gave an example: “They might put a water main in, and while that’s waiting to be pressure tested and chlorinated, they’ll move on to the next.”

Construction workers will go through each block four times, he added.

Cr. Chapman asked about the planned detour route. Mr. Johnson responded that were some of the details that town staff will work through with the contractor.

“The goal will be to try and keep as many people having access to their homes as we can at all times,” said Mr. Johnson.

When the project was removed from the 2019 budget, Cr. Chapman voiced concerns at the time, saying the road “is a disaster.” She said, on parts of the street, motorists could only use the centre of the road.

She thanked Mr. Johnson three times before council members voted unanimously to approve awarding the tender to Elgin Construction.

Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express