A decades-in-the-making Rapids Parkway extension project took another step forward Monday.
Phase two of the estimated $9.3-million project to connect the roadway to Exmouth Street, by extending it under Highway 402 and moving the Howard Watson Nature Trail, was approved 6-3 by Sarnia city council.
About $3.5-million worth of water and sewer work was completed last year.
Step two, extending Rapids Parkway south as far as the highway overpass, was awarded to Inwood-based McNally Excavating Inc. Monday for $2.2 million.
Connecting the roadway under the overpass and to Exmouth Street will wait until after 2023-planned MTO rehabilitation work on the highway finishes, general manager of engineering and operations David Jackson told council.
“We’re still waiting for the full details, but the best case now is that the full road would open all the way through to Exmouth in 2024,” he said.
The plans also include a roundabout where the roadway would connect to Quinn Drive, as well as new street lights and signals, noise-mitigation measures, native species replanting, and having at least three metres between the rebuilt section of nature trail and the road.
A pedestrian crossing where Exmouth Street meets the trail was installed in 2020.
Couns. Margaret Bird and George Vandenberg said they were wary about awarding the project to McNally because they couldn’t find much about the contractor online.
Bird asked if the award could be delayed.
City staff looked into McNally’s references and would have brought forward any significant concerns, Jackson said, noting the company is eager to begin the work.
“We haven’t done a lot of work with this company in the past, but based on our research, there’s nothing to our procurement policy that can prevent us from awarding this,” he said about McNally’s bid.
Only in rare circumstances does the policy allow the city to not award a low bid, he said.
Other bids ranged from $2.35 million to $2.8 million.
Sarnia had budgeted $2.5 million for the project phase.
A budget increase may still be needed for the project’s final phase because of inflation, Jackson said.
“Because we’re a year or two out, we’ll have to review that at budget time.”
Coun. Dave Boushy voted with Bird and Vandenberg against awarding the contract.