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Failed culvert removed in Fort Simpson

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Thursday, August 16, 2007

A failed culvert led to a traffic diversion for a few days in Fort Simpson.

Between July 31 and Aug. 3, vehicles were directed over a temporary dirt road while work was completed on the culvert located in the Fort Simpson access road on the hill just before the snye.

NNSL photo

Workers put the final touches on the Fort Simpson access road at kilometre 2.3, where a culvert was removed. - photo courtesy of Rod Gunderson

The joints holding two sections of the corrugated steel culvert together had separated, said Rod Gunderson, acting regional superintendent with the Department of Transportation. As a result the culvert was drawing mud and sand in from the road creating a crater that was even with the shoulder line on the road and growing bigger.

"It was priority one to fix that," said Gunderson.

Work on the project was done by the maintenance contractors, a joint venture between Rowe's Construction and Nogha Enterprises. Workers dug down to the culvert and removed it from the road.

The work was done to prevent further damage to the highway and to safeguard drivers' safety, said Gunderson.

The area in the road was filled in and crush was put on the surface and covered with calcium chloride that will suppress dust and stabilize the surface.

The department will continue to assess the road to see if a culvert is necessary, he said.

In approximately a month the area will be chipsealed again as part of a project to fix five areas along the road between the ferry crossing and the village.

This isn't the first time that culvert has failed. It was replaced between 15 and 20 years ago, said Gunderson. Given time and ground conditions, culvert failures aren't unusual, he said.

Unstable ground conditions made worse by heavy rainfall were the likely cause of the separation, he said.

There are a total of 1,400 culverts in the roads in the Deh Cho region. Currently five of those, including the one in Fort Simpson, are failing and are scheduled to be replaced, Gunderson said.

Additional work is also being done on the roads around the Deh Cho.

For the next two weeks minor grade repairs are being done on Highway 1 from Fort Simpson to the Ndulee ferry. Rough sections where the road has failed will be bladed, have crushed gravel applied and be covered with calcium chloride.

A line painting crew will mark the highway from Checkpoint to the Liard ferry landing and into the village as far as the Sub Arctic.

Normal maintenance on the highway system is also underway, said Gunderson.