A major slide on the Blackwater Road has now been fully stabilized.
Quesnel and North Fraser Road residents are familiar with the yearly construction in the Knickerbocker hill area, but earlier this year, Mother Nature added a sudden, new challenge.
A large, treed bank, approximately 100 metres wide, broke from the edge of the road and slid down toward the bed of the Fraser River. The incident happened overnight in mid-February, requiring a lengthy planning process involving environmentalist agencies, the City of Quesnel, Ministry of Transportation and Emcon Services.
Environmental agencies and fisheries had to ensure none of the material being excavated would find its way into the river.
As the area was so near the old dump site, and with no records of potentially hazardous waste, the city had to assist in the process.
As the stability of the road was significantly threatened, the Ministry of Transportation’s main concern was ensuring the Blackwater Road would remain open.
Emcon’s division manager, John Andrushko, standing on one of the five-metre track-packed benches of earth separated by 35-degree slopes developed by his crew, said the project to stabilize the area was completed in only nine days. It wrapped up Sept. 22.
The carefully structured embankment looks like a small mine, void of any vegetation. Environmental concerns were a large focus for Emcon.
“There was really no hauling out except for the ditching material,” Andrushko stated.
“We haven’t added to the river, brought anything in or taken anything out.”
A common question is what will happen with the land mass that now rests along the river bed. As the river rises every spring, the deposit will gradually dissolve into the river.
Andrushko said due to the volume of material, no plans are in place to remove it, but the bench and slope technique used will reduce the driving force of the water by adding control to the erosion.
“In the end,” he explained, “if this continues to erode into the river, then what we’re standing on will slowly erode and it’ll end up [becoming] a gentle slope.”
Gnarled, broken trees and layered earth rest along the shoulder of the river now, but the damage could have been significantly worse had it not been for joint stabilization effort.