Washed-out roads create deadly hazard in Manitoba
Washed-out roads in western Manitoba have become a deadly hazard and people are calling on the province to take immediate action.
In the past five days, two men have died after their vehicles went off embankments where roads used to be.
Pat McLaughlin's son was out in the yard near Keld, Man., on Tuesday when a pickup truck drove over the edge of Road 142 North.
"[It was] the biggest bang of metal crashing and my son happened to look over that way and and he saw, because the truck had two little dirt bikes on it, my son saw a dirt bike fly up in the air," she said.
The truck fell 4.5 metres and the driver, Brett Natrasony, 21, from Brandon, was sent to hospital in critical condition. On Thursday, RCMP said the man had died.
The culverts in the area had been washed out since late April. The site was well marked with barricades and warning signs, police said.
That's not good enough, said McLaughlin, who knew both men.
"Get this culvert repaired. Like, there's lot of culverts and a lot of water washouts in the province, we understand that, but yet we don't see them working anywhere," she said about provincial road crews.
The 46-year-old man who died was a grain truck driver whose vehicle drove into a washed-out section of road just south of Highway 5 near the Rural Municipality of Hillsburg on Satuday.
According to police, the man was driving from the RM of Gilbert Plains southbound on Road 150, near Roblin, when his vehicle fell into the washed out area and dropped about four to six meters.
Police said initial reports indicate there were warning signs on the road approaching the area, but they had been moved or displaced.
Putting pressure on province
Dennis Forbes, the reeve of the Rural Municipality of Dauphin, which includes Keld, said there's little he can do to fix a washed-out road until the province replaces the culvert.
The two pieces of infrastructure fall under different jurisdictions. While both fatal incidents happened on municipal roads, the province is responsible for the culverts.
Forbes has contacted the province, but has no idea when the work will be done. The request has to work its way through a number of layers of the provincial government before the work can get started, he said.
"It was a fast melt all over, so I can't give you any idea as to when the word would come down for local people, 'OK, go get that fixed.' It'll be on [the province's] list of things to do," Forbes said.
"And where in that list it falls I just don't know. Will we be putting pressure on them? Absolutely."
Steve Ashton, Manitoba's minister of infrastructure and transportation, said the government is still repairing damages from the 2011 flood.
It could be weeks before crews get to the washed-out provincial culvert near Keld where the latest incident occurred, he said.
"To be able to repair or replace them, you have to obviously have flood waters recede. You have to have the area dry out. You have to put in place the engineering plan," Ashton told reporters.
Ashton said it's tragic that two people have lost their lives this week because of washed-out roads.
Forbes said the washouts were common this spring, though the degree of damage varied widely.
"We ended up with about 30 sites that we put barricades on, and that would be anything from where water crossed the road and removed two or three inches of material," he said.
"We would, at that point, put up a barricade indicating that there was an issue with the road. If the road became a concern to the safety of the public, we would close it.
"We have one other site that it was a road closure with pipes removed by the water and we're repairing it as well."
Video of road washout near Keld, Man., taken by Jordan McLaughlin on April 28.