July 2, 2012
Construction crews battle ravages of B.C. flooding
B.C. MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTATION
Construction crews are working around the clock to clear debris and repair several highways in the Interior of British Columbia, which were hit by storms last weekend that forced hundreds of people from their homes and left one man dead.
“The Ministry of Transportation and Argo (Road Maintenance) are working well together and will have the road (Highway 97A) open quickly,” said Jack Davidson, president of the B.C. Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association.
“They are working with the community to get it back running and then they will help with the process of rebuilding. It’s a tragedy, but it’s great to see people working together to get things back in order.”
Last weekend heavy rain and violent thunderstorms pushed many rivers and creeks over their banks in the B.C. Interior, the Kootenay region and the Fraser Valley.
This was after weeks of rapid snowmelt and unseasonably wet weather, forced two road closures on Highway 97A. One closure was about three kilometres south of Sicamous at 2 Mile Bridge and there was another one about eight kilometres south of the town.
“The community of Sicamous was evacuated, when the creek flooded and brought down a lot of material,” said Davidson.
“It cut a new course and brought down the road. They will have to go in and dig up the old creek to get the water flowing where it is supposed to. There is a lot of rock to move out of the old creek.”
Jeff Knight, spokesperson for the ministry, said three excavators were working around the clock on Highway 97A, at the spot just south of Sicamous, where the road was closed due to a washed out bridge.
“That’s the one spot where we are trying to restore the highway, due to a closure,” he said.
“The work is being done mainly where the road washed out. They are trying to get the river back in its channel.”
About 50 people are working to restore traffic on the highway which involves building access for a temporary bridge.
“Argo Road Maintenance has a bridge in stock in Vernon that they are bringing in,” said Davidson.
“They also have expertise and are bringing in people from Vancouver and Prince George to assemble and install the temporary bridge.”
“The plan is to have the new bridge installed in days rather than weeks,” he said.
Knight said there is no estimate when 97A will be back in full operation. As a result of the closure, Highway 97B and Highway 1 are alternative routes.
Argo, the ministry’s maintenance contractor in the region, will start assembling the temporary bridge on June 27.
The rest of the work is being undertaken by day labour from the Sicamous area.
“They are trying to use local machinery and equipment operators, who are working on excavators, tractors and trucks,” said Davidson.
The crews worked to open up the north side of the span to build an access area for installation of the bridge.
About 350 people were evacuated from their homes in Sicamous on June 23 and at least one home was swept away.
Homes and dozens of cars were damaged after flash floods tore through the community.
The local district declared a state of emergency.
The B.C. Coroners Service reported that Edward Posnikoff, aged 72, of Crescent Valley, was killed on June 23, when a bridge collapsed under pressure from the flood waters.
Posnikoff was standing on a bridge over Goose Creek near the edge of his property in Crescent Valley near Nelson.
A family member witnessed Posnikoff being swept away.
His body was recovered about one kilometre downstream.
Thirty homes were also evacuated.
Knight said another spot where the Ministry of Transportation is responding to flooding is on Highway 16 about 26 kms east of the junction with Highway 5, in Tete Jaune Cache.
The road is reduced to single lane alternating traffic and no detour is available.
Across B.C. about 700 people have been evacuated and more than 1,000 have been placed on evacuation alert.
B.C. emergency response officials are working with their federal and provincial partners.
The Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre (PECC), has been working to source needed resources. The Province of Saskatchewan is providing technical flood expertise, as well as about eight kilometres of gabion dikes and five sandbagging machines.
In the event that B.C. requires additional resources, Canadian Forces in Edmonton, Esquimalt and Vancouver are on a continuous standing alert.
B.C. MINISTRY OF TRANSPORTATION
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