Square project hit by delays

Duane Hicks

Work on the Rainy Lake Square will take a few more weeks than initially scheduled.
The completion date was to be Sept. 1 but there have been delays along the way, so that date has been pushed back to Sept. 22, Operations and Facilities manager Travis Rob told the Times on Monday.
Rob said the delays were weather-related.
“People think, ‘Oh, it didn’t rain that much but a day here, a half-day there–if it delays a concrete pour, then it delays everything,” he explained.
“That’s been one of our biggest stumbling blocks . . . fighting the weather and trying to organize the construction around the weather,” Rob added.
“And forecasting weather is not an exact science.”
He also noted “things can still change” for better or worse due to the weather.
“It could rain for a week and throw us back a week,” Rob remarked.
“It’s one of those things where all of the material is either here or ordered–that part’s good,” he said.
“It’s the weather now that we’re really kind of at the mercy of.
“If it continues to be like this [sunny and warm], life’s good,” Rob noted. “We’ll keep working, make some time up even.
“But if it rains, then it’s straight delays.”
While the grand opening of the Rainy Lake Square had been scheduled for Aug. 31, with a series of five evening concerts slated to run Aug. 24-Sept. 21, plans are being tweaked.
The Rainy River Future Development Corp. will try to shuffle some of the concert dates because the grand opening, in all likelihood, now will be pushed back to late September, economic development consultant Tannis Drysdale said.
But just as importantly, they want to stay committed to the purpose of the concerts–which is to create activity downtown in celebration of the new Rainy Lake Square, she added.
“So we are looking at options for having a street party concert–putting a stage up in the street and using the space in front of the market square like it was open,” Drysdale explained, saying the plan simply is to move the entertainment “five steps to the left” of the site.
“So we’ll do that, and we’ll push the opening back a bit,” she added. “We’ll work with some of our performers to make some adjustments.
“We’re going to try and stay fluid here, and try and achieve all of the goals set out.”
More details about the concert series will be known in the next few days.
Despite the delays, Rob noted there’s been plenty of work done so far at the future site of the Rainy Lake Square.
Foundations have been prepared and retaining walls are being poured as RML Contracting of Thunder Bay and subcontractor Syncor work the site front to back.
“As they go, they have got to excavate down and get a base packed in for the foundations,” Rob explained.
“The foundations go in and then, of course, the walls go on top of them.
“So the site plumbing is pretty much done, now they’re just working on the foundations and walls,” he noted.
“Some of the bases for the towers are in and others should be installed this week.”
Rob said these “towers” are modelled on the ones seen along the Noden Causeway (there will be alternating red and white bulbs strung between them at the square).
These towers will be in addition to poles that will provide more general site lighting.
RML also will excavate the foundation for the stage this week, which will take up a fairly large portion of the rear of the site.
Hopefully, all of the concrete foundations will be done next week and RML will be able to start placing rock beds and individual large rocks, said Rob.
He conceded that much of the work done so far might not look too exciting, but it’s a necessary piece of the puzzle. And once the in-ground work is done, the Rainy Lake Square will be changing almost daily.
“There’s a lot of work on the site that has to happen underground that no one sees, unfortunately,” Rob noted.
“That takes time and at the end of it all, no one sees it.
“That’s what RML is focusing on right now–getting that in-ground stuff done, getting foundations in and prepped, and everything else,” he stressed.
“So they’re spending a lot of time on work that gets buried and nobody ever sees it, but it’s a key piece in making everything that everyone will see look good for many years.”
Once complete, the square will feature a stage, seating decks, tables and chairs to sit at, lighting, canopies providing some shade from the sun, and plenty of trees.
In related news, the new sidewalk will be installed on the 200 block of Scott Street starting next week.
The block is being closed to motorists today and tomorrow so prep work for the installation of new sidewalks could be done, including the removal the trees on the block and the installation of curbing on the front of the Rainy Lake Square site.
While not all merchants and residents agreed with the decision to remove the trees, the tree roots have caused sewer and foundation problems, which only will get worse if the trees aren’t removed.
In regards to the curb work, the plan is to “bump” the curb out in front of the Rainy Lake Square–widening the sidewalk right in front of the square to create an entrance area while at the same time eliminating several parking spaces.
RML Contracting also has started removing bricks on a portion of the 200 block.
Then starting Monday, subcontractor Precision Paving will be here to start installing paving stones, starting at the southwest portion of the 200 block of Scott Street (from the CIBC up to the Rainy Lake Square site).
The paving stone work will be done in four quarters; with work progressing one quarter at a time.
Precision Paving installed the new paving stones at the Civic Centre a month ago and is anticipated to be equally as quick and efficient with the job on Scott Street, noted Rob.
The new paving stones will be exactly like the ones installed at the town hall.
The colour and materials are intended to tie the sidewalks aesthetically into the future Rainy Lake Square.
The sidewalk replacement is scheduled to take about three weeks.
During this entire time, RML Contracting will ensure pedestrians are able to access downtown businesses via ramps.
Some parking spaces will be temporarily closed to give contractors space to move around, a place to store paving stones, and at times allow pedestrians to move around the sidewalk work.