An excavator digs up a portion of Highway 101.

With work now underway on the main portion of Highway 101 west of the Bruce Avenue turnoff, the usual four-lanes of traffic has been reduced to two lanes. Motorists are being advised to slow down, exercise additional caution and to expect occasional delays.

Motorists in Timmins are advised to be prepared for minor delays on Highway 101 between Rae Hill and the Bruce Avenue junction as work on the Connecting Link project has been stepped up.

The usual four-lanes of east-west traffic was reduced to two lanes Wednesday as workers began digging up some parts of the roadway damaged by frosts heaves.

As traffic is funnelled into single lanes, motorists are warned to slow down and exercise additional caution, especially since heavy construction equipment will be moving around in the area, as will individual construction workers.

The Bruce Avenue turnoff is also closed as work is now underway to rebuild curbs, repair culverts and improve the road grading in that immediate area.

The work is all part of Phase One of the city’s 10-year plan to reconstruct the entire connecting link, from the old ONR tracks in Porcupine all the way through to Kamiskotia Road, a distance of more than 21 kilometres.

This phase of the work was first estimated to cost $4.5-million and the province provided the city with a $3-million grant to help cover the cost of the work this year.

In July, the city awarded the contract to Miller Paving at a cost of $4.8-million. Only two contractors responded to the city’s tender. The Miller contract was the least expensive.

The contract was enhanced to include the installation of 25 new streetlights at a cost of $458,000 and the inclusion of bicycle lanes, by adding 2.5-metres of additional pavement on each side of the road, at a cost of $262,000. City council voted to add the enhancements at the council meeting held on July 25.

This decision resulted in the overall paving distance being reduced from 2.2-kilometres down to 1.4-kilometres, in a bid to keep costs down.

If council had not voted for the enhancements (streetlights, bike lanes) the cost of the tender would have been roughly $4.1-million, said the engineering staff report filed at city hall.

The report also revealed that the road repair work for phase one is expected to provide 30 years of “useful life” to that section of highway. The tender calls for the installation of 225 millimetres of asphalt (8 ¾ inches).

Timmins city hall will be providing regular updates on the construction project to keep residents informed of significant changes as the work progresses, said a city news release.

Source: Timmins Press