The final paving of an important downtown artery is expected to take place in late September, early October, and then be reopened.

Motorists anxiously await the completion of the infrastructure project on Railway St. from 5th Ave. to Centre St. that has stifled traffic in the downtown core. The section has been closed since early July with limited access provided to businesses along the street.

Last night, town council approved using another $700,000 in Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding to complete the project, bringing the total budget to $3,490,000.

Ray Predika, acting general manager of infrastructure, told council the amount approved for construction was $2,790,000, about $1 million less than the opinion of probably costs. It did not include a contingency, nor engineering costs, which includes design, tendering, and inspection during construction.

Councillor Marni Fedeyko says council has taken heat from such scenarios in the past and wants to see  clearer information provided on capital projects.

"I'd like to see those dollars, if they're not put in, just a much more clearer estimated of what that final cost could cost, and really highlight that in the budget process, so that council isn't all of a sudden surprised and hit with another big bill."

That policy will be reviewed to attempt to prevent a similar situation from occurring in the future.

When starting construction, contractors unearthed an asbestos cement pipe that ran half the distance of the project. It hadn't been identified in the town's record drawings. Unlike iron or plastic pipe, it cannot be abandoned and left in place. It had to be removed and disposed of properly.

The Railway Street project was approved as part of the 2020 capital budget and is part of the first phase of the Tri-Site redevelopment which also includes the transit hub and innovation centre. It includes a full rebuild of deep utility infrastructure, the addition of storm infrastructure and streetscape additions, including updated lighting and additional parking next to the Cochrane Public Library.

Updating the infrastructure could potentially lead to redevelopment of commercial properties and development on empty lots along Railway St. Town interim chief administrative officer Drew Hyndman pointed to several potential properties that could see redevelopment, including the former Cochrane Dodge property on the corner of 5th Ave. and Railway St. As well, there are some empty lots on Railway St. and Bow St. that are available for development.

"We foresee that the investment the town has made has been very strategic, and we're going to see significant change."