Parts of the Soda Creek Macalister Road are impassable due to muddy conditions and locals say at least three vehicles got stuck as seen here on Friday, March 26. (Lynda Archibald photo)

Stuck in the muck, some Cariboo roads causing problems

"There's nothing to grade, it's just mud," said Soda Creek resident Lynda Archibald

Mud is making some rural roads impassable in the Cariboo, especially for residents in areas such as Soda Creek and Horsefly.

As of Monday, March 29, the 108 Horsefly Road has been closed in both directions because of muddy sections between Woodjam Road and Lowden Road.

A detour is in effect via Horsefly Road and Bells Lake Road.

Last weekend a maintenance foreman with Dawson Road Maintenance was being praised for thinking outside the box to make the Horsefly Lake Road passable in a section that was also very muddy.

A Ministry of Transportation spokesperson confirmed that rig-matting was installed along a soft section of Horsefly Road in response to some particularly muddy conditions, brought on by spring melt and high ground water conditions and will completing permanent repairs to the area as conditions allow.

Preparations include ensuring that proactive maintenance such as ditching and culvert cleaning is undertaken to protect road infrastructure, evaluating inventory on hand — culverts, temporary bridges, geotextile — and fortifying where needed, stockpiling materials — rip rap, gravels — at strategic locations, confirming availability of additional equipment and technical resources, and implementing load restrictions as needed to protect the integrity of the road infrastructure.

The April 2020 slide on the Soda Creek – Macalister Road at the 10 kilometre mark from the junction of Highway 97 cut off the normal route used by Fraserbench Farms owners Lynda Archibald and Charlie Brous.

Since the slide, they have been travelling north on the road to access Highway 97.

That was until the last few days when a section of the road became too muddy and vehicles were getting stuck.

The Soda Creek-Macalister "don't come down here!" saga continues. Not just the little cars getting stuck in the mud -…

Posted by Barb Scharf on Friday, March 26, 2021

Archibald said they have a dilemma.

There is one side road – Edmunds Road – that connects to the Soda Creek Macalister Road for them to access Highway 97, but it is pretty scary.

“It needs four-wheel drive, if you can actually make it,” she said.

She has an appointment in Kamloops on Wednesday, and was worried because Sunday’s snowfall made it even more difficult to use Edmunds Road.

With a four-wheel-drive tractor, Brous ran up and down Edmunds Road to set some tracks and overnight it froze just enough for Archibald to follow with her car.

She’s left it parked at the top end of the road more than three kilometres away so she will be able to access Highway 97 to go to her Wednesday appointment.

“There are some fairly steep sections, that’s what makes it difficult, and some more big bog holes,” she said, noting there is one other household that needs to use the road as well.

In the 32 years they have lived there, Archibald said there has not been any gravel placed on the road, and she believes a whole new base to the road is required.

“If you just try to grade the slop on top of the slop, you are not maintaining anything. There’s nothing to grade, it’s just mud.”

Read more: No current timeline to reopen Soda Creek-Macalister Road after March 29 road failure

Cariboo Regional District Area D director Steve Forseth said the district continues to lobby for a fix with the Ministry of Transportation, including sending a letter which was authorized at the board meeting Friday, March 26 to ask MOTI to have proactive road and infrastructure maintenance on rural roads like Soda Creek-Macalister Road.

“Many locals have reached out to me concerned that if an emergency occurs on this road, the only method of getting in is to medevac an individual out, which is both expensive and significantly ties up paramedics based out of Williams Lake,” Forseth said.

“In my discussions with the ministry, they are aware that this particular road needs significant work especially with the event from a year ago on this road.”

CRD staff are having a meeting with MOTI staff this week and the Soda Creek-Macalister Road is on the list of roads that they will be discussing and exploring ways to come up with solutions, Forseth said.

Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes told the Tribune said the majority of her calls from constituents are about roads.

“We need far more investment in ditching and clearing culverts, and more resources from government,” Oakes said.

Read more: New MOTI district manager takes the wheel in Williams Lake

The ministry spokesperson sad local road maintenance contractor Emcon Services was working to mitigate conditions and was on site Tuesday with crew and equipment.

As to the closed by the slide a year ago, the ministry said further geotechnical analysis is required at the site.

“Due to challenging soil stability and other factors, there is no prescribed repair at this time,” the spokesperson confirmed. “It is important to note the residents currently have access to Highway 97 from both sides of the slide.”

This article has been updated from the original version with comments from the Ministry of Transporation and Infrastructure.


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Williams Lake Tribune

 

Parts of the Soda Creek Ferry Road are one lane only due to erosion. (Laila Potvin photo)

A new slippage on the Old Soda Creek Road is impacting the lives of five adults who commute for work, three seniors and five school-age children. (Diane Dunaway photo)