British Columbia

Residents south of Quesnel frustrated by months-long impassibility of West Fraser Road

Communities south of Quesnel have been cut off from the city since April due to parts of a stretch of West Fraser Road that are eroded or collapsed.

The detour for commuters is a forest service road, which residents say is full of potholes and blind spots

Flooding damaged parts of the West Fraser Road south of Quesnel in April, but no repairs are expected from the government until 2020. Meanwhile, residents from surrounding communities are forced to use a forest service road that drivers say is dangerous. (Submitted/Steve Sarjola)

Communities south of Quesnel have been cut off from the city since April due to parts of a stretch of West Fraser Road that are eroded or collapsed.

The detour route provided for commuters is an ill-maintained forest service road, Garner Road, which has doubled the amount of time it takes to get from Emily Campbell's neighbourhood of Buckridge into the city.

"It's not the best road to be travelling on, especially in smaller cars. It's full of potholes, really tight turns, blind corners and then logging traffic that doesn't know that we're on there," Campbell told Daybreak North's Carolina de Ryk.

A big concern for parents and community members is the fact that the local school bus has to travel this road, she said.

"There's a lot of tension in the community, because, with winter coming, it's almost a given that something bad is going to happen … it's nerve wracking."

'Everyone's Frustrated'

Campbell said she's heard many stories from neighbours who have gotten stranded on Garner Road in an area with no cellular phone service.

"Everyone's frustrated … Anytime you go over to anybody's house that's the first thing you talk about is that road," she said.

Residents are frustrated at the lack of response from the province to get this road fixed. The damage happened in April and no repairs are expected until 2020. (Submitted/Steve Sarjola)

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said in an emailed statement that geotechnical and hydrological assessments are being made to determine the best way to repair the road which was damaged as a result of flooding.

"In the meantime, safety improvements have been made to Garner Road and Webster Lake Road, which are providing a necessary detour while West Fraser Road is closed. This included a reduction in speed limits for both roads, increased signage and improved sight lines through brush clearing."

Lengthy wait for repairs

The ministry says it is currently in the design stage and expects to engage the public in early 2019 on potential options, which has Campbell and her boyfriend considering moving to neighbouring Williams Lake for the winter to avoid the potentially dangerous commute.

"We had hopes of starting a business in Quesnel, but it's just not feasible at the moment. We can't be driving on that road and expect to make any money," she said.

The community of Buckridge has upwards of 250 residents and many are starting to look for work, groceries, new doctors and banks in Williams Lake which could begin to impact Quesnel's economy, Campbell said.

She said she felt the need to speak out because of the growing frustration in her community and the need for a more rapid response from the government on this transportation issue.

With files from Daybreak North

To hear the full interview listen to media below:

Parts of the West Fraser Road south of Quesnel have been collapsed and eroded since the spring with no repairs scheduled until 2020. The outage has cut many in surrounding communities off from Quesnel, forcing people to look for new jobs and amenities in Williams Lake. 8:21

Read more from CBC British Columbia