Underpass repair work put on hold

North-end residents miffed at the notion of traffic being disrupted at the Portage Avenue underpass this summer can breathe a sigh of relief as town council agreed last night to hold off on the project until next year.
Referring to the sole tender that was submitted for the job, Bruce Spottiswood, acting manager of Operations and Facilities, told the committee of the whole the $124,942.50 cost couldn’t be justified in this tight-budget year.
“There’s nothing there that’s going to collapse,” he noted. “With the possibility of getting more funding for the job next year, I say we do not award the tender at this time.”^“The Operations and Facilities executive committee would agree,” said Coun. Deane Cunningham. “A lot of taxpayers are wondering if we’re going to be doing the work or not.
“If we do it this year, 100 percent of the cost will be coming from the Town of Fort Frances,” he noted.
“We’re applying for OSTAR [Ontario Small Town and Rural] funding and we think that we’ll get it,” Coun. Cunningham continued.
“And that’s money that won’t have to come from the taxpayers.”^He noted that while the subway may look to be in bad shape, it can wait another year.
The work was to include temporary concrete work on both sides of the underpass, and a warning light system at either side of the subway that would signal if it was flooded.
The concrete work would have to be torn away in the future, when the town plans to make much more expensive ($1.4 million) changes to the underpass to bring it up to requirements defined by the Transportation Association of Canada for transport trucks.
This would include widening it by 1.67 metres, which would mean removing the sidewalk from the east side of the roadway along with a part of the bridge abutment wall, as well as making it roughly 30 cm deeper.
The pump lift station would be upgraded to handle an inflow of 3.75 cu. ft./s by replacing the two existing pumps with two higher capacity models, and modify the pump suction and discharge piping.
This will require some modifications to the existing piping, pump house wall, and door, and also may require some electrical modifications.
Also at last night’s meeting, council heard a presentation by Chamber of Commerce president Alan Tibbetts regarding “Re-Inventing Fort Frances.”^Tibbetts noted the Chamber has pledged to undertake a three-year promotion of the Fort Frances area, which would be aimed at Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South and North Dakota.
As well, council referred a request from the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship for $5,000 in bridge funding for tables and chairs for consideration in the 2004 budget.
It also directed the bass committee apply to the Trillium Foundation to cover at least part of the cost.
Also last night, council handed out certificates of appreciation to the donors of trees, benches, and the Rainy Lake mermaid for the La Verendrye Parkway, as well as the new big chair at Pither’s Point Park.
Council also heard a centennial activities update by Pam Hawley, chair of the centennial celebration committee, who promoted “Homecoming Week” (June 26-July 1).
Hawley also gave Mayor Glenn Witherspoon a copy of Neil Mc- Quarrie’s new book, “Fort Frances: A Story of Its Town and Its People.”^This book is being launched Thursday at 11:30 a.m. in front of the museum.