Emcon Services said in late July that much-needed freshet repairs were underway on Allcock Road. (Emcon Services inc Facebook photo)

Emcon Services said in late July that much-needed freshet repairs were underway on Allcock Road. (Emcon Services inc Facebook photo)

North Cariboo spring freshet keeps Emcon Services busy this summer

Multiple projects completed

Within the last three months Emcon Services has completed nearly 60 road projects in the North Cariboo resulting from spring freshet.

Area 18 contract manager Chad Mernett said they continue to undertake some significant jobs, one of which is the ditching of the entire Red Bluff Subdivision in Quesnel.

“The main focus this year is on drainage with all of the freshet issues that we’ve had so far,” he added.

“So a lot of culvert installation, a lot of base repairs and a lot of ongoing projects that are probably going to go on for a while yet in the next month or so.”

Unprecedented heat this summer has meant either earlier shifts or the pulling of specific jobs.

If flaggers could not find shade for most of the day or an air-conditioned truck to sit in on quieter roads, they were not out.

“I think we saw temperatures of upwards of 46 degrees, and you can imagine the temperature of the pavement for flaggers to stand on that asphalt which is probably more like 140 degrees,” Mernett said.

Looking back on some of the projects completed this year, Mernett said a major one included the localized ditching and road base repairs of Beaver Lake Road north of McLeese Lake.

Another was the ditching and brushing of Garner Road, which serves as a bypass for the West Fraser Road where five sections had eroded in 2018 by high water levels from spring freshet.

Work continues on the Blackwater Road that Mernett calls a high priority as the roadway would serve as a critical access route to Prince George should there ever be a failure on Highway 97.

“We’re in the process there of completing all of the base failures that have happened over the past year or so, and we’re also going to be doing a bunch of gravelling on that road starting in the next month or so,” Mernett said.

Read More: MoTI activates district operations centre, response to flood damaged roads in Cariboo region

Throughout this summer Mernett estimates upwards of 180 pieces of equipment have been moving daily throughout the North Cariboo. Emcon Services, he said, has secured contractors from other communities such as 100 Mile House and Prince George when local resources were exhausted.

With summer drawing to a close, they have already started preparing for the winter season having their sheds filled with salt and getting trucks winter-ready.

“It’s been a year that I think most of us hope we never have to go through again as far as the freshet because it’s increased everybody’s workload by about 500 per cent, and the crews are tired,” Mernett said.

“I think even on the Ministry of Transporation and Infrastructure side, everybody’s just getting burnt out. So let’s just hope this is a one-off, and next year we can do five or six projects instead of 60.”

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