What's going on with that new bridge plaza anyway?Monday, March 31, 2014 by: Bob Mihell
Construction of a new Canadian bridge plaza that remained stuck in neutral well past its original completion date is now in “full gear” according to a senior spokesperson for the Federal Bridge Corporation.
Andre Girard, senior vice president communications for the FBCL, which oversees the project, confirmed the plaza is targeted for completion by the spring of 2017, and that construction would start to amp up this spring.
The new plaza was publicly announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper during a visit to the Sault in early Sept. 2009.
Completion of the $44.1 million project was targeted for April 1, 2014.
The contract for the architectural design of the project was awarded to EPOH, Inc. a Sault Ste. Marie-based architectural and engineering firm, in late 2009.
A media release at that time said the new plaza, when completed in 2014, would include: seven primary inspection lanes comprising four passenger lanes, two bi-level lanes for cars and trucks, and one truck lane; a bus inspection area; new traffic and commercial facilities; widening of the bridge approach ramp; new infrastructure to support NEXUS and the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) frequent traveler programs; and a new building to house brokerage operations and a duty free shop.
A startup hit a stumbling block, however, after a handful of disgruntled owners of nine properties on Albert and Hudson streets declined offers they said were well below market value.
They hired the Toronto law firm, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, in early 2011 to represent them in negotiations.
The stalemate ended in late Oct. 2012 when a mediated settlement was reached for the purchase of all but one of the nine properties.
The final property was acquired separately early in 2013, clearing the way for demolition to begin in June, 2013.
That contract was awarded to Cy Rheault Construction Ltd. of Timmins, Ont..
Girard said the final demolition of the remaining properties is done.
“I spoke with an engineer this morning, and demolition is over now except for the existing duty free store and maintenance building,” he said in a phone interview from Ottawa Tuesday.
A $10.9-million contract for the second phase of the plaza redevelopment was awarded by the St. Mary’s River Bridge Company, a subsidiary of the FBCL, to George Stone and Sons Ltd. of Sault Ste. Marie in Nov. 2013.
The contract includes construction of a new Duty Free Shop and maintenance garage, as well as the ramp widening and other related civil works.
Micheline Dube, president and CEO of the SMRBC was quoted saying in a Nov. 8, 2013 article in Northern Ontario Business: "A key highlight in this phase of the project will be the widening and connection of the plaza ramp to Carmen's Way, which will greatly improve the flow of commercial and general traffic at the plaza.”
That work is underway and will continue throughout the summer, Girard said.
He added that the expectation was by late summer and fall, construction would begin on the new Canada Border Service Agency facilities.
Because of the lengthy delay that kept construction in limbo for three years, City officials and Sault MP Bryan Hayes expressed concerns the plaza would be downsized.
Mayor Debbie Amaraso and Joe Fratesi, the city’s chief administrative officer, both emphasized the importance of truck access to the International Bridge from Carmen’s Way as a key feature of the original plan that must remain.
Amaroso told Sault This Week (Sept. 25, 2012), “The city is firm on our wishes that the original plan is the go-forward plan. There have been commitments made, and it is imperative for this project to happen in its original form. We went to great expense to build Carmen’s Way with this in mind.”
In the same article, Fratesi had said, “In our most recent meetings, we made it clear we built Carmen’s Way based on the preferred design in mind. That’s what we hope and expect.”
On that subject, Girard said this week, “Nothing will be modified or changed that I know, although there were rumours about all kinds of things. Everything has fallen into place.”
He did acknowledge, however, that there could be “minor adjustments” to the plans here and there.
“I see that in Cornwall where they just built a new bridge. But the project [in the Sault] is in full gear right now.”
Girard added that the FBCL has created a blog site that residents can access as construction amps up this spring and summer for frequent updates on construction and for travel advisories.
Residents and bridge travelers can access that information at www.ssmbridge.ca.
Meanwhile, the FBCL and Federal government are remaining tight lipped about what the final cost of the bridge plaza redevelopment may be now considering the delayed construction, although Hayes had speculated in the local media that the original $44.1 million total may escalate above $50 million.
live one 3/31/2014 9:34:41 AM Report
It`s all wrong, they bought the wrong properties. They should have bought the properties on Toronto and Hudson Streets and had the approach come in from the north. It then would line up with Carmen`s Way and eliminate the bottle neck at Queen and Huron. Smart planning.
SLV1931 3/31/2014 9:47:02 AM Report
I AGREE! It would have lined up nicely with Carmens way
bounder 3/31/2014 9:54:19 AM Report
What did you expect , they can't even plan traffic lights.
superior87 3/31/2014 10:04:45 AM Report
Yep, no doubt, I'm sure you randoms know more about civil engineering and planning than those who have made it their careers. But hey, who knows, maybe you're secretly the best planners out there.
learningaswego 3/31/2014 10:11:22 AM Report
bang on superior87 - the armchair experts on here always - always, have a better way, and are experts in engineering, planning, construction, traffic flow, economics, business, government.
Just ask them!
ThinkAgain 3/31/2014 10:25:45 AM Report
3 yrs late, already over budget, at least they didn't cancel it as the gas plant.
Does the government ever do anything right?
right wing 3/31/2014 10:25:50 AM Report
The "experts" should take pen in hand and write to the designing engineers, I am sure they would want to know of their mistakes prior to building.
right wing 3/31/2014 10:27:19 AM Report
Well you got your moniker correct.
The gas plant is a provincial level.
The bridge plaza is on the federal level.
B Boy 3/31/2014 10:41:17 AM Report
learningaswego: I agree, there are a lot of armchair experts posting here, however based on recent events I think we can agree that engineers most certain do make mistakes.
This could be an example of stakeholders not communicating. Perhaps there were better options for the design that were not considered.
Either way, we've been begging for a new plaza for years and now we're getting one, maybe we should be thankful considering this is a pretty small port of entry.
Corr 3/31/2014 12:08:18 PM Report
for you unemployed armchair experts that have nothing better to do than criticize the work of professional engineers and architects, the answer as to why the plaza can't be repositioned is because the bridge approach already heads towards Huron and would have to be demolished and rebuilt therefore costing more. Believe me, when architects, engineers and urban planners plan these things out they take all possibilities into consideration and repositioning the plaza would have been way too expensive. Also, keeping the approach the way it is allows the bridge to remain open during construction.
AlwaysAWinner 3/31/2014 12:48:06 PM Report
Corr, 98% of the people here are beyond dumb and have no logic or foresight. their small minds can only handle so much, I don't expect any of them to even have graduated college. steel plant workers and fat housewives criticizing work they've never begin to understand? that's the soo.
Wisenheimer 3/31/2014 12:52:04 PM Report
The peanut gallery weighs in again, with uninformed opinions.
Thank the lord they aren't very mobile and usually forget to vote.
Sam C 3/31/2014 12:54:50 PM Report
Well said, B Boy.
The decision regarding the orientation of the Bridge Plaza and the approach to the bridge was made decades ago, before the first shovel ever hit the ground. It was the wrong decision, then and we've been paying for it since.
As well, changing the approach would require reconstructing a portion of Carmen's Way.
SooSoo 3/31/2014 1:46:37 PM Report
I agree that there are a lot of so called experts out there making comments.
But reality is, that we have had our fair share of miss-planing in this city done by the "EXPERTS"
Just look at the Rhodes Center, pool to short for sanctioned events, rinks to small for sanctioned short track events, new soccer arena too small for sanctioned tournaments no room for spectators, and the list goes on.
All these places have been designed by our "EXPERTS"...
So a little criticism is warranted.
guestwho 3/31/2014 1:48:45 PM Report
so it will be finished Apr.1 2014,yes???
7 lanes,2 open at all times!!!Wish I had money like that to blow!
Stevie-E 3/31/2014 4:26:38 PM Report
I think they should redesign with Carmen's way in mind...maybe it will require another 25 million, but it would reap benefits in the future! Who knew what was going to be there 50+ years ago?
Start by leveling all the houses west of Huron street and down the sketchbag Albert St. corridor and make a parkway with some cool rowhouses, etc.
It's a stretch, I know...but dreams can be made reality if there's enough dreaming the same thing!
bulletcards 3/31/2014 5:04:59 PM Report
I'm guessing alwaysawinner puts him/herself in that 2% catigory they speak of. overinflated sense of selfworth and overinflated sence of intelligece. you know the alwaysawinner catigory.
bulletcards 3/31/2014 5:07:11 PM Report
macgyvr 3/31/2014 10:16:58 PM Report
MAYBE THER MIGHT BE A LITTLE COLD PATCH left TO FILL SOME OF THE HOLES ON CARMINES WAY. THE CART WAS PUT IN FRONT OF THE HORSE IN THIS CASE. POOR TRAFIC FLOW. REGARDLES OF HOW MANY GATES THERE ARE,IF THEY DON'T OPEN THEM WHAT,S THE SENSE. TOTAL PI#S POOR PLANNING. LOOK AT THE UNDERPASS,SECOND LINE, GREAT NORTHERN NORTH OF SECOND LINE, SECOND LINE BETWEEN GREAT NORTHERN AND OLD GARDEN RIVER RD, AND NOW THEY WANT TO PUT ANOTHER EXIT FEFORE THE LIGHT. NICE WORK GOOD PLANNING TOO.EH
saldog 4/15/2014 9:53:38 AM Report
The planning of the bridge and the opening of the lanes are two completely seperate issues. One is done by engineers the other relies on the CBSA staffing our port (which fluctuates between the 8th and 9th busiest land port in the country) with enough officers to open those newly constructed lanes.