Pipes to stay under boulevards
City resists push by developers to move infrastructure under roads
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 09, 2013 06:00 am
St. Albert will continue to require that underground infrastructure such as water and sewer pipes be installed underneath boulevards, despite a push from the development industry to move such pipes under the road.
Council voted 6-1 Monday night to continue running pipes beneath boulevards instead of moving them to the road. Coun. Cathy Heron voted against the motion.
Last month council voted on nine of 12 new engineering principles the engineering department had developed, and then referred to the Urban Development Institute for comment. One principle – allowing back alleys – was never brought forward, while moving utilities and requiring developers to install transit shelters were put off until Monday.
Leo Levasseur, a St. Albert resident representing UDI, said St. Albert is one of the only municipalities in the Capital region that still requires infrastructure to be laid within the boulevard instead of the road. He said moving them into the road right of way creates better quality roads, reduced maintenance costs due to using less pipe, and less disruption when repairs are required.
“Basically what we’re looking at from a maintenance perspective, (boulevards) require disruption to sidewalks, trees, front yards and driveways,” Levasseur said. “With what we’re proposing, it would just be the roadway.”
But those changes alone could add significantly more cost to repairs, said Tracy Allen, director of engineering for the city. Public works would have to send out more workers for routine maintenance just to direct traffic, she said. She also asked public works to compare the costs of flushing water pipes under boulevards compared to under roads, which does exist in some parts of the city. Of 17 total repairs, flushing boulevard water pipes cost $7,700 while road pipes cost $32,000.
“So there is a bit of a difference in price,” Allen said.
There would also be additional costs and difficulties to locating utilities in the road, Allen has previously noted. Any breaks could mean shutting down an entire road until a problem is fixed, which could heavily impact local traffic. Despite Levasseur’s contention such breaks, often caused by damage from frost, could be minimized by installing pipes further down, Allen noted that increases the cost of both installation and repair because it requires more digging and more material.
Even former public works director Glenn Tompolski, now the general manager of infrastructure services, said the city should just keep installing infrastructure as it always has.
“I’ve looked after systems for more than 30 years, the majority of them in the roadway, and have not seen any cost savings because they were in the roadway,” Tompolski said. “In reality it’s a lot different.”
As for transit shelters, which the city originally wanted to require developers to build in new communities, St. Albert will instead only require them to be built on arterial roads and stops close to multi-family buildings.
The city will decide where other bus bench pads will be required. Currently the city only owns about half its bus shelters, with Pattison Outdoor, which provides advertising services at transit stops, owning the rest.
Developers will only be responsible for those sites in which Pattison has no interest.