With spring here, work to complete the 9th Street rehabilitation project is about to get underway. (Houston Today photo)

June set for 9th Street project completion

Sidewalk work, finishing touches about to start

June 10 has been set as the target date for a ceremony marking the completion of the District of Houston’s 9th Street beautification and rehabilitation project.

The work was to have been finished last year but an early onset of winter brought construction and accompanying finishing touches to a halt.

Site furnishings, landscaping and the placement of decorative concrete on 9th are on the completion list as is the completion of a sidewalk on Hwy16. The latter is not directly connected to 9th St. but is part of the overall contract awarded to Canyon Contracting/Terus Construction.

Completed as of last fall were the underground works consisting of a new watermain on 9th from Hwy16 to the east side of the Poulton Ave. intersection, repairing sections of sanitary and storm drainage mains and removing old sidewalks.

Base preparations for new sidewalks are to take five days in May followed by five days of pouring concrete and other work while finishing the sidewalks on Hwy16 will also take five days, starting in late May and running into early June, indicates a schedule submitted by District operations manager Chris Lawrence to council April 6.

All of this work is being called Phase 1 of a comprehensive and long-reaching program to rehabilitate and beautify the downtown core, part of a strategy to attract and then retain new businesses and residents. Phases 2 and 3 would rebuild 10th and 11th along the same lines as 9th.

Complementing this is placing utility lines underground along Hwy16 where the new sidewalk is being built. That work to place BC Hydro, Telus and CityWest lines underground is a separate project with a separate budget.

Last year a budget of $5.15 million was set for the 9th St. project with the largest portion, $3.274 million going to Canyon Contracting/Terus Construction, approximately $580,000 going toward design and contract administration and $1.36 million set aside as a contingency.

Approximately half of the financing, $2.5 million, came from the District’s water and sewer reserve accounts with $1.996 million coming from a provincial grant provided to the District for capital projects. The provincial transportation ministry, ICBC and BC Hydro added to the financing.

Since then the project costs have been refined to the point that the budget has been reduced by approximately $1.18 million with the anticipated final cost now at approximately $4.15 million, said District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck.

That $1.18 million was originally allocated from the District’s water and sewer capital reserves and has now been returned to those reserve accounts for use elsewhere.

Pinchbeck said costs this year to finish the 9th Street phase are estimated to be just under $660,000.

“[That] represents the costs to complete the remaining sidewalk and roadworks for 9th Street, the installation of a Downtown Gateway sign, $100,000 to complete the remainder of the design for the rest of the program and a $225,000 contingency allowance,” he said. Money for that is coming from federal gas tax grants and ICBC grants.

The newly-opened Tim Hortons and the planned Esso-branded gas station have also provided a combined $110,000 to help cover the costs of completing the Hwy16 sidewalk.

“This also helped offset the net costs to the District for the work to be completed,” said Pinchbeck.

And as the finishing work to 9th Street is starting, council has given Terus an additional contract, constructing a right hand turn lane from Copeland to Highway 16.

This project is already part of the District’s financial plan and was to be part of the downtown Phase 2 work but, in a memo to council, operations manager Chris Lawrence noted “the timing of the project corresponds with new developments in the area and is intended to address traffic congestion.”

One of those new developments is the Esso-branded gas station and convenience store, construction of which has been delayed until this summer.

Lawrence noted that the Copeland turning lane project can now take place at approximately the same time utility lines will be placed underground.

“This could eliminate duplication of work and alleviate confusion and uncertainty around District underground infrastructure and private utilities,” he said.

That lane will cost $144,000 and that money is coming from the grant provided by the province to the District for capital works projects.

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