Construction work on the Chemainus Road Corridor Upgrade Project was progressing nicely heading into the Thanksgiving weekend. The road surface had been smoothed out and prepared for paving.
But Mother Nature intervened on the long weekend and downpours of rain turned the road into a mess. Crews from Milestone Equipment Contracting Inc. had to repair the damage twice over the long weekend just to make the road passable.
“We’re in repair mode now,” said John Dehoop, manager of infrastructure for the Municipality of North Cowichan. “We were at about 90 per cent ready to pave by Friday last week.”
Dehoop had been at the project site Friday as the rain picked up. “By the time I left I had to pull over and make a call,” he said.
Dehoop contacted Milestone about the need to fix potholes and do some regrading at the earliest possible time. It got worse on Sunday, resulting in further pothole repair and regrading that continued into the week.
The plan now is to pave in smaller sections just to get some done in case there’s another weather event.
The Municipality and Milestone have been watching the forecast closely to see what this week will bring.
“You never want to open up the road like that knowing there was severe weather in the forecast,” Dehoop noted.
The road was fixed up Tuesday morning once more “just to get it in the shape so it was driveable again,” Dehoop said.
He conceded it’s always dicey this time of the year with construction projects because of the weather, but COVID-19 already set back the Chemainus Road project four to six weeks.
Grading was being done from Henry Road to River Road Wednesday. Grading will now be done simultaneously with the paving of sections. Some paving will definitely be done Thursday and hopefully Friday as well if the weather cooperates.
One complicated aspect of the project is the River Road roundabout. Normally, roundabouts would be closed down for a week or two but that can’t be done here because of detour limitations.
“I don’t think sending people to Ladysmith is a good option,” Dehoop conceded.
Severe rain storms definitely set projects back, he added, and there’s no way to fix a damaged roadway immediately.
“We can’t actually fill potholes when it’s raining,” Dehoop explained. “It literally lasts 10 minutes. You have to physically wait till the rain stops to fix the potholes.
“We want people to continue to be patient. It’s going to be nice when it’s done. When it’s raining, they need to proceed through there very cautiously.”
Copcan Civil Ltd. worked on the infrastructure of the project before Milestone won the bid for the current construction phase.
“Copcan and Milestone are the best two contractors I’ve ever had to work with,” praised Dehoop. “They’re fantastic and so good with the community.”