Tehkummah secures government roadwork funding

TEHKUMMAH – The Township of Tehkummah has finally received the green light and confirmation from the federal government that it will be receiving funding for roadway rehabilitation on its 10th Sideroad and Sixth Concession.

“This is great news for the residents of Tehkummah and others who travel these roads. We look forward to the road improvements in terms of spring flooding as well as increased safety for emergency, motorized vehicles and cyclists. Thanks again to all levels of the provincial and federal government for their support of the Township of Tehkummah,” stated Reeve David Jaggard in a press release.

Tehkummah has been trying for nearly two years to obtain funding for its 10th Sideroad in particular. That road’s condition deteriorated especially last summer due to people seeking shorter detours when Highway 542 was closed at the Blue Jay Creek.

With this announcement, the federal government has committed more than $1.7 million ($1,770,393) which will go alongside a provincial contribution of $982,637 and Tehkummah’s portion of $196,645. 

The total project is worth $2,949,675 according to the federal government’s press release, though Tehkummah budget figures list the total project as $2,087,225, which would mean the federal and provincial governments would contribute a total of $1,948,076.67 and Tehkummah would be responsible for $139,148.33. The Expositor was unable to determine the accurate figures by press time Monday.

Work in this project includes the rehabilitation of three kilometres of road to boost its height and install guard rails. The project will include the addition of two culverts to allow water flow and reduce flooding and its associated damage due to heavy rainfall.

“The intent of the project is to raise the grade of the road and to install some safety features that haven’t been there before like guardrails,” said Tehkummah’s outgoing acting clerk-administrator Roy Hardy. He added that a couple of culverts in the area may be assessed for replacement as well. This project as a whole is aiming to reduce the spring flooding problems that are experienced regularly on this stretch of roadway.

Tehkummah had originally applied for funding through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF). In April, OCIF suggested that the application was not the best fit for their mandate and suggested that they could forward the application to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP)’s rural and Northern stream. This was a separate pool of referred applicants and increased the chances of being approved.

One advantage of the project flowing through the federal program is the reduced level of municipal contribution. OCIF required Tehkummah to pitch in 10 percent of the project cost while the federal initiative only requires municipalities to contribute 6⅔ of the total cost.

Tehkummah has expressed interest in improving drainage in the area to reduce future problems. In June of this year, council authorized roads superintendent Kevin Dunlop to make a petition under section four of the Drainage Act that would allow crews to connect the drainage ditch along the 10th Sideroad to the Blue Jay Creek. This would turn it into a municipal drain. 

Once at that status, crews can remove obstructions such as beaver dams that can lead to flooding issues. They also instructed K. Smart Associates to update its drain assessment studies for that area under section 76 of the Drainage Act, with this work to be conducted alongside the road rehab work in order to save on costs and disruptions.

The township has completed the geotechnical study of the area some time ago but has yet to conduct a full design of the roadway. They will be bringing on an engineer to aid in that process.

This funding lasts over a span of two years. Mr. Hardy said this allows the township the time to ensure the work is done properly the first time. He added that the finished product will bring many benefits to area residents.

“Number one is it makes the road base better. It won’t be subject to flooding which can occur and impact school buses and emergency vehicles, and it makes the access to the Government Road and that area much more reliable,” said Mr. Hardy.

“It’s probably also going to improve access for people who use bicycles, because we’ll be able to put it in such a way that it’ll complement the bicycle-friendly roadwork being done throughout the Island,” Mr. Hardy added.

The project is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2022.