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Maintenance of infrastructure makes sense

By Jack Elliott

There is a flurry of work on infrastructure across Northwestern Ontario. Hydro One has been upgrading the transmission lines like the one along #11 from Fort Frances to Rainy River including a planned new substation at Barwick to tie in to the local grid, the recently purchased transmission line that services the OSB mill there. Many of the hydro poles in the Town of Rainy River have been replaced. Augusts’ Hydro bills have included notice of a pending increase in transmission charges that will increase the total Hydro One bill by between 2.9 and 8.6 percent. This is on top of a rate increase applied earlier this year and additional rate increases being applied for that could raise the average electricity bill by more than 40% over the next two years.
Certainly infrastructure maintenance and improvements are necessary and do carry costs. But what costs and could not the ‘triaging’ of maintenance be a little more rational. For example in the Town of Rainy River many poles have been marked as dangerous and due for replacement for nearly a decade. Still some transformer poles were not replaced although they were carrying a much heavier load than most non-transformer poles. This was evident this week when on Tuesday, August 25 a transformer pole in the 200 block of 3rd St snapped off causing an unscheduled power outage of several hours. A new pole had to be delivered from Fort Frances as Hydro One has none in stock in their Rainy River yard.
In other incidents Hydro One’s practice of leaving the existing but shortened pole in place for later removal is creating a dangerous situation. This spring a stub pole about 15 ft high next to a handicap parking spot on 1st St in Rainy River was noted to be ‘swaying’ in the wind by an area resident. Inspection by the resident noted it was ready to topple. A call to Hydro One resulted in a crew working in the area, on the scene in minutes. A crew member pushed the pole over with one hand. An adjoining pole that was openly rotten, and had been for many years, was replaced the same day.
One other stub pole at the corner of 3rd and Broadway has for months, rather than being removed, been tied to the new pole with a piece of rope. Another stub pole in the same block ‘cracks’ ominously if you lean against it.
On the Highways front, a large culvert on # 11 at Cooper Road, east of Emo, underwent an emergency replacement on August 25-26. A hole in the middle of the road had opened some months ago and near daily filling with cold mix failed to alleviate the problem.
The bridge on # 11 over the LaVallee River has been noted to be in deteriorating condition. The approaches on both ends had subsided and asphalt patches added, but have since subsided further. Concrete work on the bridge is crumbling and local informed observers say there is significant vibration on the bridge when heavy traffic crosses it.
The bridge on #621 at Bergland is also in a questionable state. A large hole in the deck of the bridge was temporarily patched with sandbags and cold mix over two years ago. A permanent repair has yet to be undertaken.
An email to Krisciunas, Ray (MTO) , who replied requesting more information on the culvert at Cooper Road. As of 11:00 a.m. C,S.T., Monday Aug. 31, no further response had been received from MTO.