SACKVILLE, N.B. – It took much longer than expected but work is finally underway on the second phase of the Lorne Street project in Sackville.
“It’s been an exciting week to see them finally in there,” said Jamie Burke, the town’s senior manager of corporate projects, last Friday afternoon.
Birch Hill Construction began work last week, clearing some of the trees and shrubs and moving the snow from the St. James Street site as the first step in preparing the property for excavation. The site will soon be home to a naturalized stormwater retention pond, designed to hold about 40,000 cubic metres of water during heavy rain storms.
Burke said some of the trees and other plants will remain part of the natural landscaping of the project. He said the area will serve as somewhat of a wetlands area that will have an ecological function by preserving the existing wildlife, and will also feature walking trails and park benches.
“It won’t just be a hole in the ground,” he said. “It will be a very naturalized type of pond. That way, it becomes an asset to the community rather than just a piece of infrastructure.”
Over the weekend, Birch Hill also started work on driving the frost into the ground to help stabilize the site. Burke explained this work is necessary in order to build frost roads that can support heavy equipment.
With the cold weekend weather, Burke said the contractor was planning to work throughout the night, at the coldest periods, using a bulldozer to track back and forth. He said this work will likely continue over several nights this week as well.
“So we will likely experience some night activity in order to get enough frost in the ground for them to get started,” he said.
Once the site is stabilized, Burke said work will then be mainly carried out from Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Town engineer Dwayne Acton said work over the winter will include digging the pond, installing an outlet control structure (to allow for the water to be emptied from the site), reditching, and the installation of new pipes under the CN tracks and Crescent Street.
Then, in the spring, efforts will turn to landscaping and putting in service roads, he said. The work is anticipated to be completed by late June.
Acton said while residents shouldn’t expect any major traffic impacts such as road closures during the construction phase, they will experience an influx of truck traffic on a regular basis. It’s a big excavation, he said, which will require almost 50,000 cubic metres of earth to be removed from the site so the contractor will be approaching this work in segments and will truck out the material to a disposal site, with details for that route currently being worked on.
Town council awarded the nearly $2-million contract for the flood control project at its monthly meeting in December.
Although Acton and Burke both reiterated last week that this phase of the project is only a short-term solution and the town is still hoping to secure further provincial and federal funding to move forward on its original plan – which had to be abandoned when the bids came in significantly over budget – they said it’s a good start and allows for improvements with the funding that is available.
The town was initially planning for a proposal that included two large retention ponds, one at St. James Street and the other behind Sackville’s community garden, new drainage pipes and ditches, as well as a new double-gated aboiteau structure behind the town’s public works building.
Instead, the water will be routed from the St. James Street retention pond through existing ditches to culverts under the CN tracks at Crescent Street where it will connect to ditching systems in the marshy fields and sent to the Tantramar river using provincially owned aboiteaux.
Burke said the long-term plan is still on the table but is only possible with provincial and federal help so town staff is readying themselves for another funding application.