Stanton Bay Road back in service; Sapawe Road closed at km 13
Some American tourists got a rude jolt when their pick-up truck caved in the Stanton Bay roadway over a week ago.
Late Friday afternoon, May 25, the travellers were returning from Quetico Park on the Pickerel Lake access road when they encountered a section of water-covered roadway 9.5 kilometres in from Highway 11.
As the travellers began to drive through the water covered section, the road broke apart beneath the vehicle, which fell into a massive cave in, was swept sideways, and ended up partially submerged in the water. No one was seriously injured, and the road was repaired and re-opened last Wednesday.
Unlike most road washouts that occurred in the Thunder Bay area last week however, this one wasn’t the result of torrential rains. It was in fact caused by beavers which had plugged the culvert with twigs and mud, and opened a dam further upstream.
While the washout “moved quite a bit of [road] material” the culvert itself was not damaged and with the cooperation of the forestry company using that road (Rainy Lake Tribal Contracting), Ministry of Transportation and local contractors and MNR, it was reinstalled, said acting Atikokan area MNR supervisor Ralph Horn. The MNR also oversaw some preventative upgrades to another potentially vulnerable area road close to the culvert.
A few summers ago a road wash out at the same location blew out the culvert and closed the entry point (the road entrance off Highway 11 is about 35 kilometres east of town) for most of the tourist season, which caused difficulties for the many outfitters who use that park entry point for clients. That washout was also caused by beaver activity, and the persistent animals have prompted the MNR to consider options to prevent future road issues.
“Water calculations have been done and the culvert is appropriately sized for the watershed,” Horn said. “We’re looking at the site and we’re looking at options related to beaver activity.”
Those options may include installing a ‘baffle’, a cage-like device that fools the animal by making the culvert look like its dammed, but allows water to pass.
The Seine River overflowed its banks forcing the closure of the Sapawe/Upsala road at Km 13 Thursday.
A large section of the road is blocked with barricades on north and south ends of the flooded section which, on the south end, begins 13 kilometres past where Highway 623 ends by the former mill site.
High rainfall, particularly to the east of us, has caused swollen waters on the Seine River, which runs alongside a portion of the road. The river has inundated the roadway in the past and doesn’t typically cause extensive road damage because “the road bed is really stable and in good condition,” said the MNR’s acting area supervisor Ralph Horn earlier last week.
Both Atikokan and Ignace MNR offices were “watching it on a daily basis,” noted area technician Twila Smitsnuk Thursday, adding that the barriers will be in place until the peak waters move through the system, and the water recedes.