With the District of Houston have settled its financial plan for the next five years, it is now moving forward on a key project for this year — finishing its Hwy. 16 beautification project.
The bid opportunity opened up two weeks ago to place underground overhead lines of BC Hydro, Telus and CityWest beside Hwy. 16 as it runs between the Buck Creek Bridge and Butler.
This work would then be complemented by installing street lighting, part of the overall and long-standing District of Houston objective to improve and beautify the downtown.
This will be the second time the District has sought bids for the underground work.
Last year, when sidewalks alongside the highway were being constructed, the District sought bids for the underground work only to have one bid come in at a price that was $453,000 over the budgeted amount.
It was sufficient for the District to put the project on hold until this year with the decision now being made to seek new bids and to dip into District reserves to come up with the money.
The District is paying for all of the work to place the Telus and CityWest lines underground and a BC Hydro program will cover 33 per cent or $312,696 of the cost of placing BC Hydro lines underground. That grant is not cash being provided to the District for the overall cost. Instead it will offset the size of the bill BC Hydro will be sending to the District for the work.
Of the estimated $2.128 million for what’s need for overall completion, $1.758 million would be for this year’s undergrounding and other work with next year’s Poulton to Butler sidewalk construction taking up the remaining $370,000.
The money this year is coming from District surpluses while the money for the sidewalk project would come from gas taxes collected by the federal government and then divvied up among local governments.
Earlier this year, with concerns raised about cost increases, District of Houston mayor Shane Brienen did note the District can revisit its plans if bids exceed estimates.
Bids close April 27, 2021 with a successful contractor expected to start work in mid-June and finish by mid-August.