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Rock tunnel a go--really.

Greater Sudbury -- Construction gets underway this fall on major upgrades to Sudbury's sanitary sewer system designed to permit more commercial and residential development in the city's fast-growing south end.

A long-awaited sanitary rock tunnel received city council approval in June with the awarding of the tender to Hamilton's McNally Construction, a leading Canadian tunnelling contractor, for $28.2 million.

Alan Stephen, the City of Greater Sudbury's general manager of infrastructure and emergency services, says the overall $31-million project should provide many subcontracting opportunities for area contractors and suppliers over the three-year life of the project.

Some pre-construction surveys start in mid-August, with the actual work commencing in September.

The rock tunnel project has been under discussion since 1999, after sewer capacity in the city's south end was maxed out and a freeze was imposed on all future development.

Stephen says the south end has been experiencing severe sewer capacity problems since the late 1990s. Without provincial funding of $8.4 million, all development would have been indefinitely frozen.

Some options were on the table, including updating or expanding their existing systems or building a rock tunnel collector system, the latter being the least expensive and disruptive alternative.

The city's sanitary sewer systems already connect into an existing 40-year-old rock tunnel. This extension will move sewage to a new treatment plant for release into the environment.

The 6.5-kilometre-long tunnel will have an average depth of 25 metres with dimensions of 1.5 m wide by 2.1 m high. Construction of the tunnel would eliminate six sewage lift stations.

Expensive delays

The project's original 2001 price tag jumped from $22.5 million to more than $31 million due to delays and changes in construction requirements and legislation, inflation, additional engineering design work, insurance costs and additional property acquisition costs.

The city is also in the midst of a large road reconstruction and widening effort. About $21 million in COMRIF funding (Canada-Ontario Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund) was awarded to Sudbury last April for work along The Kingsway, Falconbridge Road, and Municipal Roads 15 and 80.

This fall, the city will apply for a second phase of funding with a bundled road package worth more than $80 million for reconstruction projects on Maley Drive ($36 million), Municipal Road 35-Kingsway-Notre Dame, ($32 million) and South Bay Road, an extension of Regent Street ($10 million).

A third round of COMRIF has not yet been announced, but city officials are hopeful it will be expanded to include waste management infrastructure and building upgrades to improve environmental and energy efficiency.

"We're hoping this next round will allow us to work in the area of leisure services, building new community centres, rinks, pools and conference centres."

"Given that we are the largest community of under 200,000 (population) communities, we stand a good chance of meeting government requirements and getting between $30 million and $40 million each round."

The ambitious program is long overdue for Sudbury's neglected arterial roads.

"The city has gone through some lean times and the infrastructure is rather fragile, roads and underground transportation systems (that is), so it's a huge dilemma for us," says Stephen.

"The other is the geographical size of the city at 3,600 square kilometres built on the (Canadian) Shield.

We're the only community in the country that draws from two water sources, 17 wells and 74 lift stations. It's an amazing undertaking because of the size and the municipal amalgamation.

"Every community faces infrastructure challenges--it's billions of dollars, but given our land mass and population base, we have our own challenges and that's what we're trying to come to grips with."


Northern Ontario Business
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Title Annotation:McNally Construction
Author:Ross, Ian
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Aug 1, 2005
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