Petrolia Line could reopen Nov. 22

Construction workers last November in Petrolia's downtown. The second phase of the project will start in June.

It’s coming down to the wire as construction crews push to complete the first phase of Petrolia’s Big Dig.

In July, Birnam Construction began rebuilding Petrolia Line. It’s a two-year, $4.5 million project which will see water and sewer lines beneath the main street replaced and new roads, curbs and sidewalks completed on the surface.

From the beginning, town officials were adamant the work would be complete by Nov. 15. Mike Thompson, Petrolia’s director of operations, oversees the project. He says the construction crews are expecting to be done very close to that date.

Thompson says there were a number of problems which caused delays which will push the completion date back to Nov. 22. One of the big problems was water main breaks.

“They’re beyond their control,” says Thompson. “It translates into more money which comes out of a contingency fund and then, more time. They get a change order (which town council approves) when it comes to unforeseen things that delay the project.”

At the last town council meeting Oct. 26, there were three change orders for a water main break, removing an abandoned gas line and moving a manhole cover. The contract sets aside $150,000 for unforeseen problems – by Oct. 26, $102,372 had been used.

Thompson says all those problems have made the timeline tight for Birnam. “They asked for an extension, but we said no,” says Thompson. “All they wanted was an (extra) week. But we said no. They’ve been saying it is going to be done…so we said no. It’s up to them.”

Saturday, construction crews could be seen working on the site, presumably to try to finish the job by Nov. 22. Every day after that date, Birnam faces a monetary penalty.

But Thompson is hopeful the crews will be able to finish the job on time finishing the underground services this week and paving and laying sidewalk next week. “Starbright (Christmas productions) start on the 24th so we’d like to have the road open by then,” he says. “It is important for the business for the road to be open and for the people of the town for the road to be open.”