LITCHFIELD – The washout of a recently repaired culvert along the PPJ trail near Moorehead Road is still under investigation as engineers and the contractor try to identify the problem and determine who is responsible for fixing it. During the Council of Mayors meeting on June 20, the mayors resolved to seek legal council if a solution cannot be found between the parties.
The issue was first discussed during May’s MRC meeting when Council resolved to seek a “third party’s” (engineer’s) opinion on the problem. At the time, Warden Jane Toller said fixing the culvert was a priority for both user safety and the tourist season. She said the washout occurred during the spring thaw when water ran around the culvert rather than through it. According to Gabriel Lance, MRC Assistant Director General, ice and snow in the fill surrounding the culvert is a potential cause.
Council awarded the $85,000 contract to repair the culvert following an
engineer’s assessment of the trail (drainage, culverts, surface condition) last fall. With limited time left to use the approximate $125,000 in funding the trail received from Route Verte before the end of the fiscal year in March 2018, the repair of the large culvert near Moorehead Road and work on eight others was approved in November 2017 and began immediately; any unused funds were to be returned and would have eliminated the MRC’s ability to apply for additional funding through the MTQ in 2018. A work report had to be submitted by January 2018.
Two bids were submitted for the large Moorehead Road culvert work, but
the lowest bid, $40,000, submitted by Art Fleming and Sons, wasn’t accepted. According to Lance, there were “several non-conformities” in the bid and the MRC consulted a lawyer for advice about whether it could be accepted. “We
really wanted to accept it, but couldn’t,” said Lance, noting going back to tender was not a reasonable option.
As of press time, the MRC hadn’t confirmed what the non-conformities were.
The MRC is now waiting for the engineer who designed the project to come and look at the site. “We’re hoping the problem will be repaired quickly and without additional costs to the MRC,” said Toller.
In the meantime, barricades have been placed around the washout,
closing that section of the trail. A detour has been put in place.