© Herald file photo
The western side of the Highway 302 detour is seen -- on the other end of a 13.8 kilometre detour that will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
Highways crews have locked Les Arcand from the site of a Highway 302 culvert washout west of Prince Albert.
It’s because they don’t want anyone seeing the “debacle” of a repair job, he surmised on Friday, livid that a culvert washout has closed the highway for almost three months so far.
“It’s disgusting to even try to talk to them,” he said. “It just gets you mad for nothing. They’ll listen during the next election, I tell you.”
Fed up with what he perceived to be a poor repair job, Arcand set up a town hall style meeting at the Lily Plain Co-operative Hall on July 10, during which about 30 people showed up to vent their complaints.
The Sask. Party’s Batoche MLA Delbert Kirsch appeared receptive during the meeting, promising to “Demand answers” from the highways minister.
"Highways has been making some mistakes -- some serious mistakes," he told the crowd.
Click HERE for an article on the July 10 meeting.
More than two weeks later, Highways and Infrastructure spokesperson Joel Cherry said that rain has continued to delay efforts.
Providing a timeline of the government’s efforts, he noted that the culvert washed out on May 5 and a contractor -- Saskatoon-based Acadia Construction -- was on site by June 5, with their equipment arriving shortly thereafter.
“They’ve got to bore a 1.5-metre culvert through this embankment … and it’s a high embankment -- about 14 metres high,” Cherry said.
It’s disgusting to even try to talk to them. It just gets you mad for nothing. They’ll listen during the next election, I tell you. Les Arcand
The boring machine needs a secure foundation, which persistently wet weather has not allowed, he said.
“There have been times where they’ve started to bore through that embankment, but there’s been a couple inches of rain and it set the project back,” he explained.
They’ve recently installed a concrete foundation for the machine to sit on, which should speed things up, he said.
It’s hard to provide a timeline at this stage, Cherry said, noting that there have been times where they thought they were two weeks away from completion, and continued precipitation pushed them back.
“There’s a possibility we could re-open the highway before all the work is done … but it depends on how stable the road is.”
There are easier ways of doing things, and under no circumstance should a culvert washout take three months to repair, Arcand said.
Arcand believes the government is experimenting techniques with this project, at the expense of area residents who have been taking a 13.8 kilometre grid road detour for almost three months.
Looking at the heavy equipment that’s been sitting on-site for almost two months, he said that it’s got to be “a hell of an expense.”
“Us taxpayers have got to pay for it, but that’s a damned shame.”
Cherry said that the latest cost estimate he has for the project is $800,000.