Tag: Adair

Northern residents call for permanent fix for washed out Highway 903

The provincial ministry of highways and infrastructure has said it’s developed a plan to repair the road — one that involves putting in more culverts.Iron says that’s not enough. She’s among the northern residents calling on the government to seriously invest in Highway 903, to pave it and install a bridge instead of coming up with Band-Aid solutions.“It’s about time they pave the damn roads. They cause so many deaths because they’re a crazy mixture of sand and clay. Soft spots suck you in and yank you all over. They’re crazy dangerous,” Iron said, adding that logging traffic increases the hazards.David Horth, director of communications at the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, said contractors are on site draining water from the area and working on a temporary crossing that is expected to be open by the end of the week.The temporary crossing will go over a cofferdam being put in place to allow for a permanent repair.“In the short term, our focus is on opening the road to light traffic,” Horth said, adding that the ministry will assess load limits for heavier vehicles, and heavier trucks will be detoured onto a different road — Highway 155 — where overweight permits may be available for local hauling.He said he expects contractors to be on site and working on a permanent repair by mid-September. He expects that to be completed by the fall, subject to weather conditions.“We realize that the impacts of this washout are significant for people, and we’re doing everything we can to fast-track repairs,” Horth said.A design team has proposed that the single culvert that washed out be replaced with additional culverts to reduce risk of future washouts, he added.“This means repairs can be done more quickly and it’s quite a bit more cost-effective.”Highway 903 is a 120-kilometre stretch of road that runs from Cole Bay south to Highway 55, just east of Meadow Lake. Matt Smith / Saskatoon StarPhoenix Former Canoe Lake First Nation Chief Guy Lariviere wrote to Highways Minister Greg Ottenbreit to say that Highway 903 was built in the late 1980s as a forestry road. Nearly 60 kilometres of the road was paved in the early ’90s and residents of Canoe Lake have been asking for the road to be paved ever since. They say paving would improve safety because the road is heavily used and crashes happen often.“People drive through for their banking in Meadow Lake, they drive back and forth all the time and it’s not safe,” Lariviere said. “It’s time to make some kind of progress. The end result: we want pavement on that road. It’s half-paved. There’s another 40 or 50 miles to go.”According to Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI), there were 451 collisions, 178 injuries, and five deaths on Highway 903 from 1988 to Aug. 22, 2018.Wallace Couillonneur of Cole Bay said he missed a family funeral because of the washed out road.“Normally it wouldn’t have been so difficult, just go to Dorintosh and cut across, but what would have been 1.5 hours is instead over four and gas is expensive. The washout is causing a lot of problems for people,” Couillonneur said. “The road should have been paved a long time ago; I don’t know why we’re still on a gravel road with no bridge there.”He said the Band-Aid solution will cost money that could have been used to pave the road instead, and he wonders if the community will have to have to wait another 20 or 30 years for a paved road.Buckley Belanger, the NDP MLA who represents the northern riding, said the state of the road is unacceptable.“This is a huge hole, 100 to 150 yards long and 100 feet deep, with cracks along the edge that suggests parts are going to keep falling into the river,” he said.“It’s affecting the regional economy: forestry, services, shopping, those people working in Meadow Lake; it has a drastic negative effect overall for everyone.”Belanger said he doesn’t think culverts will solve the problem.“They need a bridge, look at this expanse. Perhaps culverts are the quickest way to get it operational, but is that an adequate solution?” he asked. “They’ve had problems with this are before. Do we take the Band-Aid approach and get people using it quicker, or the good solution: design and finance and build a bridge?”Related Matt Smith / Saskatoon StarPhoenix Jessica Iron is terrified to think of what could happen if her six-month-old baby gets sick.Iron lives in Cole Bay, roughly 400 kilometres north of Saskatoon.The nearest hospital is in Meadow Lake. Until this summer, it was about a 60-minute drive down Highway 903.But the culvert under the road gave way this summer and the road washed out. If residents of Cole Bay want to get to Meadow Lake, they need to canoe across the washed-out road and catch a ride or drive a roundabout route under construction that could take them up to three hours.“It’s frightening to think of what would happen if my baby needed a hospital,” Iron says. “What about all the pregnant women? Lord help them if they have complications or go into labour. Or the sick people.”Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below. Residents of Cole Bay, Jans Bay, and Canoe Lake First Nation are concerned about the condition of Highway 903, which collapsed this summer and is now under repair. A line of culverts wait to be installed along Highway 903. ‘People are going to go without food’: Washed-out road poses challenges for northerners read more