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Quesnel-Barkerville Highway washout stabilized

Highway 26 repairs will start when water drops
Emcon Services attended to a major washout in April that ate an entire lane out of the Barkerville Highway. The erosion damage can’t be fixed until water levels drop lower. There is single-lane alternating traffic in effect until then. (Emcon Services photo)

At the end of April, the spring freshet dealt a severe blow to the Barkerville Highway.

At a spot about five kilometres east of Troll Ski Resort on Highway 26, the adjacent creek on the south side of the east-west stretch of road did erosion damage so severe it ate a hole in the pavement and sub-grade. That side of the highway was impassible and has remained that way ever since.

“A sharp increase in water levels in the surrounding area overwhelmed the existing infrastructure, causing significant damage to the road shoulder and the westbound travel lane,” said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

“Equipment was brought in to remove woody debris to prevent further damage to infrastructure,” the ministry contact explained. “The road was reduced to 24/7 single-lane alternating traffic and rip rap was placed to prevent further erosion.”

Since then, the ministry has carried out a series of assessments and preparations to make repairs.

“The existing eastbound lane was closely monitored for any defects as a result of increased upstream pressures. However, no damage was identified, and the situation stabilized.”

The ministry brought in a temporary bridge “in case of failure of the eastbound lane,” but it wasn’t required, as water levels began to drop.

“The ministry is currently exploring repair options,” said the spokesperson. “The ministry needs the water to fully recede before a timeline for restoring two lanes can be determined. In the meantime, hydrotechnical, environmental, and structural engineers are working to determine a repair strategy.”

After checking to see if other areas in the vicinity might also be at risk of the same erosion action, it was determined that “the damage was specific to this site alone, as it is where two creek systems meet.”

A portable stoplight is now in place to guide the alternating single lane of traffic.

READ MORE: Washout closes Highway 26 in Cottonwood

READ MORE: Spring freshet creates washout on Barkerville Highway