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County of Barrhead awards contract for shoulder pull program

2024 shoulder pull program comes in nearly $60,000 under budget
County of Barrhead Coun. Walter Preugschas expressed his concern during the May 7 council meeting that the company that public works recommended for its 2024 shoulder pull program did not have much experience doing that type of work.

BARRHEAD - County of Barrhead councillors awarded a $144,000 contract to Wallis Bros. Construction for its annual shoulder program during their May 7 meeting.

The shoulder pull process involves moving dirt from the shoulder and ditch to the middle of the road. Road crews do this to prepare the road for grading, packing, and gravelling. The process also helps maintain the road's proper profile, which is crucial for the drainage of moisture on gravel roads.

The county set aside $198,000 in the 2024 capital project to carry out 12 miles, or roughly 19 kilometres, of road shoulder pulls. 

Infrastructure director Ken Hove said the process becomes necessary because as gravel roads age, they often become pushed out or widened due to traffic and road maintenance, adding that when they start to exceed nine metres and flat, i.e. road crown, they become difficult to maintain, requiring excessive grading and gravelling mainly due to poor road drainage.

He said the municipality tendered the program through Alberta Purchasing Connect's website and received four bids, all from contractors in the local region. The lowest was the previously mentioned Wallis Bros. at $12,000 a mile, and the highest was Barsi Enterprises Ltd. at $273,000 or $22,750 per mile.

Hove said the request for a quote allows the municipality some leeway of plus or minus three miles. However, as the county has not prepared additional miles of road to be added to the project, he suggested that council does not contemplate adding additional roads.

B&B Wilson Oilfield Services has conducted the county's shoulder pull program for the last three years, with last year coming to $16,000 per mile.

Coun. Walter Preugschas said that while he was sure that Hove had done his homework on the companies, he noticed that when he looked at Wallis Bros. Construction's website, it did not look like the company had much experience doing shoulder pulls.

"All of the [companies that submitted bids] work in the oil industry," Hove replied. "Often, roads in the oilfield have their shoulders pulled. It is a continuous thing with all the heavy traffic; it is a regular maintenance item."

He added that after talking with the company, Hove is confident that they understand the project and can carry it out.

Deputy reeve Marvin Schatz also voiced concern over Wallis Bros. Construction's apparent inexperience in shoulder pulls.

"B&B Wilson has done it for us for three years. Are you confident that they will do as good of a job?" he asked, "Because $5,000 more [for Wallis Bros] is quite a price difference."

Hove said yes.

"They have very similar equipment and are a very similar company that does the same type of work," he said. "For a lot of these companies, it is a filler job, to keep them going and have work for their guys, because if you on [have work for a month and send them home, they will end up working with other companies."

Barry Kerton,

Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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