Tillsonburg’s Oxford/Simcoe Street Connecting Links road and bridge rehabilitation project is nearing completion – and it will be finished earlier than originally planned.
The Town of Tillsonburg has announced nightly road closures for Oxford/Simcoe Street starting Sunday, July 19 to Tuesday, July 21 from Broadway to Vienna Road, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. each night, to allow for the final stage of the project – surface asphalt and road painting.
During the night-time closures the road will only be accessible to emergency vehicles.
“They are doing the (surface) asphalt,” said Dan Locke, Interim Director of Operations. “I think they’ve already done the base, so it’d be the final lifts and the road painting.”
The entire project, including minor bridge rehabilitation which started in early May, was originally scheduled to be finished by the end of August. The completion date is now expected to be the end of July – one month early. The final week, after the nightly road closures, will allow time for inspections and the paint to set.
“We worked with the contractor to kind of get things ahead of schedule,” said Shayne Reitsma, Tillsonburg’s Manager of Engineering, noting that with COVID-19 – and its impact on businesses – it was important to return to normal traffic flow and accessibility for businesses as soon as possible.
“The way we had the lane closures (from Broadway to Vienna Road) and allowing them to do night paving – and suggesting that to them – allows them to get everything done much faster,” said Reitsma. “We’ve been working hand-in-hand with the contractor to expedite it.”
The weather, which has been relatively hot and dry, did not hinder the three-month rehabilitation project.
“The weather’s been really good,” said Locke. “We’ve only had maybe one or two rain days that I can think of.”
One lane of traffic remained open in both directions for the duration of the project and an effort was made to maintain access to businesses during that time. Traffic seemed to move relatively well, said Locke.
“I think initially when things get set up for a certain flow of traffic – they did the one side, then the other – and then it changes, each time you set it up there’s a day or two of getting used to it,” said Locke. “My impression is that it went pretty well for the motorists… it just takes a little bit of time each time we set it up different. After a day or two, most people get used to it.
“(The project) didn’t have any major issues.”
Ontario’s Connecting Links Program
Through the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s Connecting Links Program announced in July 2019, the Town of Tillsonburg received $1,578,461 towards the Oxford/Simcoe Street project. Provincial funding covered nearly 90% of eligible project costs and the Town of Tillsonburg’s share of the reconstruction was budgeted at roughly 10 per cent, approximately $150,000.
The Ministry of Transportation Connecting Links Program supports the construction, renewal, rehabilitation and replacement of connecting links infrastructure that connect two ends of a provincial highway through a community or border crossing. The Ontario government invested $30 million to support 25 Connecting Links projects, including Tillsonburg, which was intended to help 23 municipalities build, renew or replace designated municipal roads and bridges that run through their communities and connect to provincial highways.
“We are investing in municipal roads and bridges to keep families safe and to support jobs and growth in local communities,” said Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney in a 2019 media release. “We are working with municipal partners to make investments to help ensure Ontario’s transportation system works for everyone.”
“This funding for the Town of Tillsonburg will support jobs and is part of our commitment to rural infrastructure that will help keep our roads safe and support our local economy,” added Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman.
Local 2020 projects
Tillsonburg’s current construction projects can be tracked online from the Town’s website (tillsonburg.ca/en/live-and-play/construction-projects.aspx).
It currently shows four other projects scheduled for completion in September/October.
* General maintenance on portions of First Street, Queen Street, Gibson Drive, Belfast Circle, Hampton Court, Wilson Avenue and Charlotte Avenue.
* Rolling Meadowns – Phase 1 and 2.
* Langrell Avenue to Broadway Watermain Looping.
* Rouse Street.