Murphy Road decision tabled until special meeting
County of St. Paul council was expected to hold a special council meeting in Edmonton on Monday, in order to potentially proceed with the overlay on Murphy Road and award the tender to the lowest bidder.
On Feb. 12, county representatives attended the tender opening for the project in Edmonton. Six tenders were opened, with the lowest coming from Sandstar Construction Ltd., at nearly $5.9 million, 20 per cent lower than the engineering estimate, according to the county’s March meeting agenda package.
“Indications from engineers is that putting off the overlay of the road will result in further deterioration of the road and increased future costs, as more work would be required to complete the overlay,” said CAO Sheila Kitz at least week’s meeting. “Additionally we would have increased annual maintenance costs.”
Murphy Road is located in the eastern part of the County of St. Paul in Division 1. It runs parallel to Hwy 41 about 25 km to the east, with the county’s portion running between Hwy 646 and Twp Rd 590.
The recently announced provincial budget did not have any money specifically set aside for resource roads, although it was noted at council’s meeting there is some money for what is being dubbed as “special roads,” according to Kitz.
As of last week, the county had over $3 million committed from industry partners. Kitz said she had been speaking with some of the oil companies in the area and had verbal agreements with CNRL and Pengrowth, and was waiting for written letters from the companies.
“We currently have $3.32 million committed from industry, with $620,000 to come in the 2014 budget. The balance of these contributions will be $1.5 million in 2015, $400,000 each year 2016, 2017, 2018,” said the agenda.
The MD of Bonnyville awarded the tender for its two miles of the Murphy Road in late February.
“I really don’t think we want to miss this one,” said Division 1 Coun. Glen Ockerman, as council debated what it should do in regards to Murphy Road.
Although the bids received on Feb. 12 were initially only good until March 14, council agreed to request an extension from Sandstar Construction, so a decision could be made after a scheduled meeting with the minister of transportation on March 17. That request was approved.
Council was also holding its budget meetings last week, and felt it could make a more informed decision following those discussions.
Coun. Laurent Amyotte questioned if the county really has a choice in the matter, since the road has to be repaired.
“I don’t know that we do,” said Reeve Steve Upham in response.
Council decided that in order to keep the door open for the province to come through with some funding, it would hold off on awarding the tender until after the meeting with the minister. The county has requested funding for the project in the past, but has so far been unsuccessful.
“If we are told no again, then we will have a more firm idea,” said Upham.
A motion to table a decision regarding the road was carried. Due to the Journal’s press deadline, it was unknown what the result of the planned special meeting on Monday was.