Culvert policy explained by county

PALMER RAPIDS – During the regularly scheduled Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan (BLR) January 9 meeting, council had a chance to discuss concerns and learn about new opportunities from Renfrew County representatives.

At December’s council meeting motives were questioned following a culvert replacement done by Renfrew County on Hopeberg Road in Quadeville.
The new culvert replaced two smaller culverts with a single larger culvert. However, the span of the replacement culvert was less than three meters. A report read at that meeting stated that the reduction meant it would no longer meet current criteria for the county to maintain the culvert in the future.
Councillors were concerned that this was a deliberate move by the county, and could therefore be a repeat occurrence in the future with other replacement culverts. Council members wanted answers as to why the decision was made to reduce the size and who made the decision.
Dave Darch, Renfrew County public works and engineering director, and Mike Pinet, manager of capital works for Renfrew County, came to the January 9 meeting to address the concern.
Pinet said a span is determined from the furthest edge of one culvert to the furthest edge of the other culvert. He further explained that while the span of the replacement pipe on Hopeberg Road is smaller, the capacity of the pipe and the ability to carry water through or across the road has increased significantly.
“Because of the characteristics of the way the water goes through the pipe, the capacity has actually increased by about 28 or 29 per cent,” Pinet said.
According to Pinet, the policy the county has is based on the span of the culvert and, because of the reduction, that ownership had been transferred back to the township.
“With the reduction of the span of the pipe to less than three metres, it then no longer qualifies as being eligible for the county road system or the county authority,” he said.
Councillor Trevor Lidtkie asked who determined the flow assessment requirements and Clerk Michelle Mantifel asked if it was done in-house at the county.
Pinet replied in the affirmative, noting they had used Ministry of Natural Resources mapping.
Darch said the size element of the bridge policy is not recent, having existed since around 1998.
Pinet further noted that due to the coating on the culvert it should have a life expectancy of 50 to 75 years.
Councillor Garry Gruntz said that if the paperwork had been sent to them sooner it would have saved a lot of aggravation.
“Everything costs money and this piece of paper is a lot cheaper than you guys coming out here,” Gruntz said.
Lidtkie expressed his concern for further implications with the sizing policy.
“You have to see where I’m coming from; the more that gets downloaded onto this little municipality, and that obviously is gonna take place with the next one and the next one, wherever you can fit that calculation,” Lidtkie said.
Darch said that it may seem like that but it was not a newly developed guideline.
“The idea is not just to download and get rid of, but when we developed the first bridge policy we set certain standards, and they were adopted by all of council back in the late 90’s, and we’ve been applying that,” Darch said.
After ensuring questions about the culvert were satisfied, Councillor Heather Phanenhour switched concern to the section of Highway 515 from Latchford Bridge, where there is a bad sink hole at the dangerous curve of road where 515 meets Wingle Road.
“Wingle corner is of severe concern to us and the County of Renfrew does not seem to think that that is a problem,” Phanenhour said.
Two different concerns were raised with regard to the curve of road at Wingle Road which, according to council members, has caused a number of vehicle incidents.
“There is a problem and there’s a possibility it has to do with not only the surface but the curvature and the angle that the corner is on. It pulls you in the opposite direction when you go around it,” Phanenhour said.
Darch questioned the speed of motorists.
“Putting the road surface aside, I would think if people are adhering to the speed limit there, they’re not going to be going out of control in that curve,” Darch said.
“I would beg to differ,” Phanenhour said.
Darch said he didn’t think they had high accident statistics on that curve and asked if they had any reports on them.
Gruntz indicated he had asked the OPP staff sergeant for one back in November.
“As the culvert is our issue now, so is the corner yours. I think that something as simple as a flashing caution sign for the corner,” Lidtkie said.
Lidtkie also suggested that Darch talk to some of the operators driving the plow trucks, saying that there is a great likelihood of a crash with a larger vehicle due to the sway in the road with a top-heavy truck.
Darch agreed and said he would take a closer look at the issue and respond in future.
Story continues in the January 16, 2013 issue of The Valley Gazette.