Road washout in Ingonish worries residents as fall weather approaches
Recent washouts and road closures in Ingonish have some residents concerned that roads and ditches are not prepared for downpours as fall weather approaches.
It comes after a section of the Cabot Trail in Victoria County was closed last week after heavy rain caused a washout at a culvert construction diversion site.
Ninety millimeters of rain fell in four hours.
The affected area was an area that was previously flooded and washed away during the heavy rains of last November which caused millions of dollars in damage.
Parks Canada is responsible for sections of road in Highlands National Park.
Crews have spent the past eight months repairing roads and rebuilding culverts to ensure that flooding does not happen again in these areas.
Despite their efforts, Still Brook overflowed and washed out part of the road that was still under construction.
« It’s kind of hard to believe that the power of nature could flow through here the way it did, » said Parks Canada Acting Superintendent Erich Muntz.
« The structures we had in place at the time were simply not capable of handling this huge volume of water that flowed out in such a short time. And now we are trying to solve the problem. »
Two closures in one week
The road was closed Thursday night between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Crews removed last week’s temporary repair and made it more resilient to potential storms, but Muntz said this second repair was temporary and more work was needed.
Once they are able to build permanent culverts, they will be much larger than the previous ones and will allow fish and debris to pass more easily.
« We have a narrow window here, » he said. « We are moving quickly and doing this work as soon as possible. »
Ruth Daisley lives on Doucette Road, which is maintained by the province.
A stream near his house is blocked by debris from the mountain, including rocks, trees and branches.
She’s complained about the stream and the culverts near the house for years, and she doesn’t think they’re up to the challenge of the next storm.
« If more stuff comes down the hill from the mountain…we’ll be in trouble again, » Daisley said.
Daisley advised the Department of Highways that ditches need to be cleared in the area. « They know me very well, » she said.
The heavy rains last week reminded him of the big storm last November that flooded his basement.
« There was nothing you could do, » she said. « If another flood comes, I hope we die first, » she laughed.
Larry Dauphinee, councilor for Victoria County, said the province had made repairs, but residents didn’t think it was enough.
« We are still worried after last year, » he said.
“We had repairs, but a lot of people call them band-aid repairs,” Dauphinee said. « We’re still noticing some of the shoulders are washed away by the rain, again. »
Work is underway
At a recent council meeting, Dauphinée called on all levels of government to invest in the Cabot Trail before its 100th anniversary is celebrated in 2032.
The province said it was upgrading and improving infrastructure with consideration for climate change preparedness.
“We are also working to have spare culverts and pre-built temporary bridges available to respond to severe storms and storm surges when they affect our existing infrastructure,” Acting Public Works Minister Allan MacMaster said. in a press release.
MacMaster said roadwork was underway along the Cabot Trail, including the Upper Middle River Bridge and detour road, a stabilization project at Tarbotvale and 12 kilometers of Highway 312 pavement preservation at Little River Road.