By Greg Amos
Special to The Pioneer
The District of Invermere is spending more than $750,000 on two major projects near the intersection of 7th Avenue and Panorama Drive this fall, with both expected to be substantially complete by the end of October.
In mid-August, Max Helmer Construction was awarded a $429,243 (including GST) contract to carry out the Industrial Business Park Road Improvement project, which involves re-paving and improving the stormwater drainage at the southern-most section of Panorama Drive.
Were trying to deal with groundwater and storm water, and deal with the asphalt as well, Mayor Gerry Taft told The Pioneer after the expenditures were approved at the Tuesday, September 9th Invermere council meeting.
With a groundwater table that lies just one foot below surface for good parts of the year, water accumulation and frost heaves are causing significant road disintegration, he said. However, the project wont improve the notorious S-curve found at the bottom of the hill near Industrial Road #1.
Its been flagged; everybody knows that corner is an issue, said Mayor Taft, who explained the district has discussed that curve with the Ministry of Transportation for last 12 years, and any attempt to straighten it out would mean appropriating a piece of the Mainroad East Kootenay Contracting highway maintenance yard.
That land itself is provincial land used by Mainroad under a long-term lease. Making matters more complicated is the fact the land has contamination issues in an area where road salts are stored.
Its just not clear when that land could be appropriated, and who would pay for the cost of it, he said.
Also at last Tuesdays meeting, Peak Environmental was awarded a $321,675 (plus GST) contract to carry out the removal of hazardous materials chiefly asbestos and demolish the old David Thompson Secondary School building located near the Rocky Mountain School District 6 works building.
The removal needed to be done before the building can be demolished; it will segregate wood and different materials, and will help reduce the tipping fees, said Mayor Taft. Work will begin this week, and the building should be torn down and the site graded within six weeks.
The land will be the future home of a multi-use community centre for the Columbia Valley.
The Panorama Drive road work began last week, with single lane alternating traffic being used to allow machinery to operate on the two-lane road. $319,577 of the amount will go towards work on Panorama Drive, including $112,000 worth of new asphalt, while $89,226 is earmarked for surfacing and drainage improvements on Industrial Road Number 4, at the north end of the industrial park.
Theres some economies of scale to have one contractor oversee what in some ways is two separate projects, said Mayor Taft.
The section of Athalmer Road and Panorama Drive between the Athalmer Bridge (near the Petro Canada station) and the Toby Creek Bridge was, until the early 1990s, a secondary provincial highway.
The road responsibility was then downloaded to Invermere. The district is responsible for the railway overpass, but not the two bridges, Mayor Taft added.
None of the paving work now being undertaken is aimed at transferring the section of road back to the province, he said. Nor is the road work related to the development of a highway leading to the planned Jumbo Glacier Resort.
Funds for the work were granted to the District of Invermere in a no-strings-attached $350,000 lump sum given prior to the 2005 provincial election. It was originally hoped that money could be used to fix the S-curve, said Mayor Taft.
Council noted the work also does not include any improvement to the often-congested left-hand turn from Panorama Drive onto Athalmer Road, and that the situation will not be easily remedied through any minor road improvements.