Closed almost 18 months: Sulphur Springs

Barrier sign at Sulphur Springs. VOICE PHOTO

Staff to make second request of Council to fund necessary engineering study

Special to the VOICE

While Council has given the nod to additional engineering work, and additional budget expense, to get the culverts under Poth Street fixed sooner rather than later, Sulphur Springs Drive remains closed nearly 18 months after it failed.

The meandering country road that crosses Twelve Mile Creek failed in March 2016, and last summer $35,000 was requested in the 2017 budget to hire a consultant to explore all viable options for the road, including permanent closure, slope stability, and road realignment, the Town’s Public Relations and Marketing Specialist, Marc MacDonald, told the Voice.

That request was not approved by Council, though MacDonald says there will be another request for the 2018 budget.

Due to excessive snow melt and rain in spring 2016, a significant portion of the slope below Sulphur Springs Drive failed and public works staff were instructed to close the affected section of the road to all traffic around March 24.

In an information report to Council in June 2016, public works staff explained that Golder Associates Ltd. was hired to conduct an emergency geotechnical investigation to help determine the cause for the failure and the soil conditions.

The cost for this report was approximately $12,000, funded by the Roads Engineering capital budget.

It was determined that a combination of saturated soils from groundwater seeps, lack of vegetation on the slope surface, extreme slope angles, and the stream velocities were all factors in the deterioration of the slope and road failure.

While the Golder report offers an explanation for the failure, further engineering reports are required to determine the best course of action.

A second portion of Sulphur Springs Drive failed this summer and a portion of Orchard Hill Road also failed this summer and is now closed.

Staff continue to monitor and maintain the closure barricades on both roads says MacDonald, noting engineering and planning for the future of the roads cannot begin until the budgetary requirements are approved by Council.

A public works report on Sulphur Springs was included in the agenda for the Sept. 5 meeting of Council and MacDonald says staff will make another request for the necessary funds for the 2018 budget.

When asked why Sulphur Springs Drive remains closed after almost 18 months, Mayor Augustyn said he thought the engineering study was proceeding, explaining that he wasn’t at the July 24 meeting when the budget was requested and wasn’t aware the money wasn’t approved.

In looking at minutes from that meeting, Augustyn says money for the engineering study is noted as “cancelled” but he isn’t sure why.

The Mayor promised to raise the issue at the Sept. 5 meeting.

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