Supply chain issues, flooding impact planned road work

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

In parts of Fort Frances, spring flooding that spilled into summer delayed planned road work in certain areas. Elsewhere, supply chain issues delayed work.

Travis Rob is the operations and facilities manager for the Town of Fort Frances. Rob says flooding delayed a lot of the planned work, some a full year and other places it was slowed down.

“Road construction was challenging this year,” Rob said. “The flood of course took us away from what we normally would be doing for the first three months of our summer, we just ended up getting everything started late. Which is always a challenge especially closer to fall time.”

The entire project which would have seen Sinclair St. between Victoria Ave. and Armit Ave. rehabilitated was scrapped for this year because of the amount of water in the area.

“We did have another (project) which was Sinclair St. between Victoria and Armit, however, if you recall, a fair portion of that actual construction site was underwater during a period of the flood,” Rob said. “Once the flooding receded we needed to give time for the (underlayers of the road) to dry before we could feasibly get in there and start excavating. By that point in time, we were so far through the year that I didn’t feel comfortable starting the project at that point.”

One project got started but not completed to the expected point because of supply availability.

“We had high hopes of being able to have at least a binder course of asphalt on Mowat Ave. but the curb and gutter concrete contractor got tied up in Thunder Bay because there was a shortage of cement powder which goes in concrete, which heavily impacted the construction industry in Thunder Bay and impacted us here in Fort Frances too, just not quite as badly. There were periods when you could not get concrete so at that point all of these jobs where you’re pouring a lot of curb and gutter and you’re pouring a lot of sidewalk, all of these jobs got behind.”

Not being able to get the concrete work done before the cold weather set in meant that asphalt also couldn’t get laid before it was too cold for that. This means that for the duration of the winter, Mowat Ave. between Scott St. and First St. will be gravel.

The road work on King’s Highway was done to expectations but not without being subjected to some of the same delays.

“Asphalt was a challenge there, again it’s a bit tied to the whole concrete situation. You can’t put asphalt down until you get your concrete curb and gutter down. So if your concrete guys are delayed then your asphalt is delayed,” Rob said. “The Asphalt industry is pretty cutthroat. You know when it comes time for us to be doing our roadwork, they can get to us when they get to us, not when we’re necessarily ready for them. We had originally planned on only putting the binder course of asphalt down which we did so the highway did finally wind up exactly where we were hoping it was going to be, come the end of the year. It was a a struggle right to the end but we got it done.”