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Villeneuve paves the way: Hearst roadbuilder finishes highway 11 repaving.

It took nearly eight months to finish, but improvements on Highway 11, west of Hearst, came to an end in November.

More than 32 kilometres of road were repaved and improved during the process, with an addition of a new two-and-half kilometre westbound passing lane.

Villeneuve Construction of Hearst was awarded the $13-million contract by the province.

The improvements finish during a time when many question the condition of roads in Northern Ontario.

"They are getting better," said Stephane Fortin, project manager for Villeneuve Construction. "It's just the harsh weather we get out here that moves the roads, but they've been improving over the years."

The company took part in a Ministry of Transportation initiative known as Cold In-place Recycling with Expanded Asphalt mix (CIREAM).

"It's something that is used more in Southern Ontario," said Fortin. "But here in Hearst we're having a lot of success with it."

With CIREAM, Villeneuve mills down halfway through the existing asphalt and then processes the material through a screening and crushing machine, before infusing the reclaimed asphalt pavement with the expanded asphalt cement.

"We just lay it back down down where it was right away, and it removes all the cracks instead of using new unpaved products."

The recycling system uses only one per cent of the asphalt content, while the unpaved products use nearly six to eight per cent.

"We just saved a lot on our petroleum products," said Fortin. "We do CIREAM for the whole 32 kilometres, and then we put two new layers of asphalt on top of it."

The Superpave asphalt mix design is also something that's been introduced to the area in the last several years.

"We're dealing with that now, which is a better crushed product," said Fortin. "The MTO is experimenting with different types of asphalt content, and it seems to be working

"It's pretty much standard now all over Ontario. It's definitely helped the Northern regions prolonge the success of their roads."

At the peak of construction, the improvements created more than 50 jobs. Villeneuve Construction hired several sub-contractors from Toronto and Thunder Bay to help, along with many locals.

Over the eight-month process, Fortin said they had to close down operations several times due to heavy rainfall in the area that created problems with erosion on highway shoulders.

"That set things back because you have to concentrate on the safety aspect of the contract at this point," said Fortin. "When the shoulders get soft, we can't continue with our operation. You have to stop what you're doing and go fix the issue, and make sure the traveling public is safe."

Fortin is hopeful of the company landing another major contract to improve the highway east of Hearst.

"It's going to be a long project, with many kilometres," he said. "That's something we will definitely be tackling and hopefully getting."


By PATRICK DEMERS Northern Ontario Business
COPYRIGHT 2012 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
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Author:Demers, Patrick
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Feb 1, 2012
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