The Sarnia-Lambton oversized load corridor will be considerably more expensive to complete than predicted.
City council agreed to soldier on with the project last month despite its estimated price tag rising to $16.9 million from $12 million.
And it could go even higher, officials admit.
“Once you get into a project like this you can’t back out. It’s like being a little bit pregnant, there’s no such thing,” a concerned Coun. Mike Stark told a delegation from the Sarnia Lambton Industrial Alliance and Bluewater Power last week.
Since the initial estimate of $12 million in 2017, the project’s construction costs have risen, design standards became more stringent, and other unforeseen issues were identified in more detailed engineering work, according to a staff report.
But the biggest unknown is the proposed Cestar Dock at the end of Exmouth Street. While another $1 million has been added to its $5.1-million estimate, a firm number won’t be known until later this year.
“The estimate was low, plain and simple. It was low,” said Bluewater Power project manager Brad Gray.
Work is already underway on the corridor, a dedicated road route for the movement of large industrial components between fabricating plants, industries, and Sarnia Harbour.
Removing signs, lights, poles and other obstructions along the route is expected to generate jobs by making it easier and less expensive to move locally made manufactured goods.
The money is coming primarily from the federal government ($6 million), Sarnia ($4.7 million), Cestar College ($4 million), Lambton County ($1.2 million) and St. Clair Township ($100,000).
The dock will be named for Cestar College, a private career school in Toronto that trains Lambton College students and announced its donation late last year.
A funding application has been made to the South Western Ontario Development Fund for $1.5 million.
The main beneficiaries of the corridor will be local industry and members of the Sarnia-Lambton Industrial Alliance.