Highway 16 reopens after 15-day disruption

It is business as usual on Highway 16 west of Elfros as the flow of traffic over Birch Creek has resumed.

The road had been closed on June 30 after several days of heavy rain caused a culvert to wash out and half the highway to collapse.

Sask HWY 16 July 17 r
Approximately 400 truckloads of fill were used for repair.

Crews worked long hours to repair the highway over top of the Birch Creek culvert, resulting in the reopening after 15 days of construction.

“Engineers were onsite assessing the situation as soon as the road was closed,” Highways and Infrastructure Minister Nancy Heppner said.

The affected section of Hwy. 16 carries nearly 2,500 vehicles per day.

When the News visited the site on July 16, two flagmen were cautioning traffic as contractors levelled out the landscaping. The foreman from a Warman construction company said it was estimated that roughly 10,000 tonnes of fill were used to bring the highway back up before resurfacing was completed.

During the closure, traffic was accommodated on a detour using Highways 6, 5 and 35.

The reopening of the highway is a good-news/bad-news story as Wadena merchants experienced approximately a 35 per cent increase in business during the closure, stated one business representative. It was an unexpected boost to the bottom line, by all accounts.

However, all is not good news for residents and producers around the Quill Lakes.

According to Kerry Holderness on the Quill Lakes Flood Facebook page, all is not well.
“Our flood is still very real,” said Holderness. “Water level (Thursday) morning still 13 inches below the top of bridge. Water from creeks still pouring in.” Holderness is chair of the Quill Lakes Flood Victims Organization, which was formed by the RM of Lakeside to deal directly with the crippling flooding in the Quill Lakes region.

“The Quill Lakes Flood Victims Organization isn’t singling out farmers and agricultural drainage for the flooding problems,” he said in a recent interview. “Organized drainage is part of modern agriculture and is a significant reason for the economic success of the region, the province and the country.

“In order for organized drainage to work for the majority of people,” added Holderness, “there must be a managed escape for excess water, and compensation paid to the few individuals who store it for the benefit of the majority. “A water management strategy could save millions of dollars of public and private investment.”

Groups are calling for the creation of an Assiniboine River Basin Commission with representation from Saskatchewan, Manitoba and North Dakota to address ongoing flooding issues in the region. Holderness says the Quill Lakes Flood Victims Organization would like to be part of that proposed group.

Travellers are reminded to slow to 60 km/h when passing through a highway work zone. 
Additional travel information can also be found on the Highway Hotline or by calling 306-787-7623 in Regina, 306-933-8333 in Saskatoon, the SaskTel cellular network at *ROAD, and toll-free across Canada at 1-888-335-7623.

By Alison Squires

Wadena News

306.338.2133.

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