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Washout prompts quick response from Athabasca County crews

Culvert was scheduled for routine maintenance

ATHABASCA COUNTY – Athabasca County crews made quick work of a potentially dangerous situation April 22 after a washed-out culvert left a large hole in a road west of Boyle.

The damage to the road on the east side of the intersection at Township Road 644 and Range Road 200 west of Boyle was quickly cordoned off with stakes and bright flagging tape to prevent people from driving into it, said Athabasca County councillor Doris Splane who had been keeping an eye on that intersection when she noticed a lot of water in the area. 

“It’s not a well-used road,” she said. “There are four bodies of water flowing through that intersection; because of so much water coming into that intersection I had been going twice a day to look and there was nothing the day before.” 

Splane noted the grader operator noticed something seemed wrong that morning and flagged the damage right before the dip in the road became a crevice. 

“It’s six or seven feet deep,” she noted. “With water flowing through and around the culvert.” 

By the evening of April 23, the hole extended to both sides of the road, Splane said but added no one lives down that stretch so it was not impacting local traffic. 

Athabasca County communications coordinator Karl Kopan said they expect these sorts of situations and try to prevent extensive damage to roads. 

“Every spring we expect and prepare for these types of challenges,” he said. “Our infrastructure services department takes a proactive approach during spring thaw by steaming culverts to ensure water flows freely, and by identifying concerns. Even with this preparation, there are still new trouble areas identified by the public and our staff.” 

The washout was quickly rescheduled for repair and by mid-day April 24 the repairs were almost complete. 

“We really appreciate receiving calls about safety concerns on roads because conditions can change very quickly,” Kopan added. “Reports like this help us manage over 2,400 kms of municipal roads and we thank everyone who contacts us.”

Heather Stocking,
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