Erie Shore Drive on the road to repairs

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(Facebook image, courtesy Trevor Thompson)

By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative 

After applying several bandaids to Erie Shore Drive’s flooding problems, Chatham-Kent is moving forward with several long-term solutions.

At Monday night’s council meeting, councillors voted to issue a request for proposals for an engineering consultant for Erie Shore Drive as they discussed the next steps for the road plagued by flooding and erosion.

The engineer will also be required to provide a preliminary report containing a sketched plan of the drainage work, as stipulated in Drainage Act.

The costs for the RFP and the preliminary report will be incurred by the municipality.

“Considering the large scope and complexity of this endeavour, a preliminary report is the most logical approach because it will include high-level design concepts and cost estimates for the proposed work,” stated a report to council.

Last March, Public Works completed efforts to stabilize the existing roadway and dike along Erie Shore Drive to mitigate the risk of dike failure, after the municipality declared a state of emergency. This included raising the roadway and relocating rows of concrete blocks reinforced with compacted clay.

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“(The temporary solution) is working extremely well. It’s minimized the risk of failure which we identified a year ago. We’re still continuing to spend money to ensure that particular solution is working properly,” said Thomas Kelly, general manager, Infrastructure and Engineering, noting that a permanent solution was needed.

The payment ratio per homeowner will be outlined in the final report should council decide to move forward. That is also when stakeholders would have the opportunity to add their input or proceed with appeals. If council decides not to proceed with the project, all preliminary costs will be incurred by the municipality.

Chatham Coun. Michael Bondy questioned whether it was the right time for the municipality or residents to pay repair costs when there has been no commitment made to date from senior levels of government for additional funding.

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In May, councillors unanimously passed the recommendations and priorities for Lake Erie shoreline protection based on a study by consultant Peter Zuzek. On the list of priorities was Erie Shore Drive, which alone would cost between $22.5-$31.7 million, at the lowest quote.

Timothy Dick, municipal director of Drainage, Asset and Waste Management, said the proposed investigation will take place within the existing Burk Drainage Scheme, with the most cost effective solutions, rather than focusing on new projects, which is what the Zuzek report focused on.

“Our concern is we really need a long-term plan on this. The solution we have out there is not a long-term plan,” Kelly said. “At some point in time, we have to make a decision out there. If we don’t authorize the report, we will never have that information and we’ll continue to struggle with that entire area.”

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