A portion of Marsh Road was reduced to single-lane traffic due to cracks in the road.                                 Lindsay Chung photo

A portion of Marsh Road was reduced to single-lane traffic due to cracks in the road. Lindsay Chung photo

Emcon expects to begin repaving drop at bottom of Marsh Road

Emcon Services and Ministry of Transportation planning to repave two slide areas in Quesnel

Emcon Services Inc. expects to begin repaving the Rourke Springs drop at the bottom of Marsh Road any day now.

“Rourke Springs at the bottom of Marsh has dropped this year quite a bit more than normal, but it’s almost stable,” Billy Pattyson, Emcon’s Area 18 operations manager, said Wednesday. “So in the next coupe of days, by the end of the week or Monday, we will repave Rourke Springs, the drop that’s there.”

A portion of Marsh Road was narrowed to one lane, with a yield to oncoming traffic sign, last week after large cracks appeared in the road.

Pattyson says Emcon has monitoring points on Marsh Road that they measure every day.

“It is very, very minor movement now,” he said.

“I think the Ministry wants to leave it for probably another week, and if the movement stops, then we will take the old pavement off, build the road back up with gravel to its proper grade and then pave over top of it. I had said by the end of June we would definitely have it fixed; I’m hoping we can beat that goal.”

Todd Hubner, district manager of transportation for the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI), says Marsh Road is similar to a number of the other slide complexes we have in the area, including the Knickerbocker slide.

“These things have a tendency to want to wake up during times of higher groundwater levels, which is what we’ve got right now as the frost is coming out of the ground,” he said. “Marsh is an ancient slide complex.”

MOTI geotechnical engineers came to Quesnel last week and did a field survey of Marsh Road.

“From that, they’ve assured us we’re not going to see a catastrophic failure out there,” said Hubner. “What we’re going to see is a gradual creep like what we’re experiencing right now, and the road will settle a few inches at a time.”

Hubner says that once the groundwater escapes out of the road prism, MOTI’s plan is to go back in there and work with Emcon Services Inc., their service contractor, to re-profile the road.

“We’ll either take the pavement off or we’ll add additional pavement just to bring the road prism back to its pre-event stage for this year,” he said.

Hubner says they are always conscious of controlling the surface water to ensure it can’t infiltrate into the road.

“When the slide first occurred again this Easter, Emcon Services went out there on the latter part of the Easter weekend and re-established the roadside ditch so that basically that water didn’t have the ability to infiltrate into the road system,” he said.

Hubner says they will be re-profiling the road near the Knickerbocker slide on the Nazko-Blackwater Road as well.

“There, again, that slide complex has woken up, and once things kind of reach a state of equilibrium again, we’ll go back in there and re-profile the pavement again,” he said.

Pattyson says Knickerbocker drops every year, and they are waiting for it to settle so they can re-pave it.

Hubner says depending on the amount of work that needs to be done, generally speaking, this type of road re-profiling work takes anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, and it is dependent on the availability of materials.