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The municipality’s upgrade of Lake Placid Road has been put on hold for a year because costs have come in far higher than expected. All members of council expressed reluctance to move the project back a year, but even going with the lowest bid costs would now exceed $1,632,000. The municipality had budgeted $1 million. "I don’t think any businesses would like to see us pay these kinds of prices," Councillor Thelma Johnstone said in moving that the project be re-tendered next February. The municipality had planned to install storm sewers, underground all wiring, install street lights and sidewalks and repave the road. The cost overrun was attributed to several factors: an initial estimate by the municipality’s consultant which overlooked several costs, a substantial increase in B.C. Hydro’s estimate of the cost to underground Hydro lines, a heated construction market this year and the late tendering of the job. Council was presented with several options, including reducing the scope of the work to lower costs but still increasing the budget, cancelling the undergrounding portion of the project and re-tendering, increasing the budget or delaying the project a year. John Nelson, director of public works, told council if the underground work was eliminated the project would probably have to be re-tendered and the four-month construction period would likely be pushed back into November. A late construction period would also add to construction costs. Nelson added an early tender date next year, less construction next year and an early start would likely help bring costs down. The municipality’s problems began with estimates received from its consultants, Civic Consultants. Three separate design reports were submitted by Civic, in October, November and December of 1995, which estimated the value of construction at $670,500. A revised construction estimate of $923,438, approximately 27 per cent higher than the initial estimate, was supplied by Civic on May 22, the day the tender closed. The increase reflected more than $218,000 in costs not included in Civic’s original estimates, including streetlights, water service to BC Rail’s station, lengthening of the bus bay and turnaround at the train station and an upgrade in gravel specifications. Assistant Municipal Engineer Rob Miller told council actual construction costs are now estimated at about $1 million. As well, B.C. Hydro advised the municipality last October that the cost of undergounding Hydro lines on Lake Placid would be about $250,000. Hydro has $1 million it allocates toward one-third cost sharing of such projects. The municipality was eligible for $83,333. But on May 27 Hydro advised the municipality that it had underestimated the cost of undergrounding, and now put the total at $338,884. However, Hydro wasn’t willing to contribute any more than the original $83,333 toward cost sharing. The total cost of undergounding Hydro, cable, telephone and connections is now estimated at more than $526,000, even with Hydro contributing $83,333. The municipality plans to recover the cost of undergrounding when it up-zones the 15 lots on Lake Placid Road. However, at $526,000 that would mean each property owner would be hit with a $35,000 bill. Ron Hosner, president of the Creekside Merchants Association, told council that businesses in Whistler Creek were looking forward to the Lake Placid upgrade this year. "Personally, I don’t care about the undergrounding," Hosner said. "It’s the roadwork that’s important."

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