Stewart Road shut by washout

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People who live on Beaver Point Road and want to get to Ganges can expect to take a major detour for the foreseeable future.

Stewart Road will be closed near the top of the 200 block for at least two months due to a major slide that swept a large piece of asphalt and roadbed over the side of the hill on Friday morning. The closure means Stewart Road residents can still access their homes travelling south or north up to that point, but it will end the road’s use as an alternate route between  the south and Ganges for the time being.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure reported Monday that geotechnical engineers and maintenance contractor Mainroad were in the process of assessing the damage and would work to repair the road as quickly as possible. The approximate date for completion was given as two months.

“The ministry thanks everyone on the island for their patience and understanding,” an email communication to the Driftwood states.

While drivers will be inconvenienced by the closure, perhaps those most affected are Abby and Ed Neff, whose property lies immediately downhill from the rupture.

The Neffs awoke at 1 a.m. Friday to the sound of a loud boom. They have lived there for 18 years, but this was a first.

“I thought the crash was a big tree coming down,” Abby said. “It was a big crash and then I opened my window and I said, ‘Ed, I can hear water rushing.’”

The following morning’s light revealed that a huge amount of mud had washed down the steep side of their property, carrying with it all their firewood for the winter. Also carried down with the flood were a number of rocks and some large cedar logs, which Ed Neff believes must have been buried underneath the original gravel road bed many years before.

A new creek runs through the ravine on the side of their land, where they used to see just a trickle of water.

“There was always a bit coming down. I think that’s what filled up the cavity behind the logs,” said Ed, who pictures the scene under the roadbed as a balloon that filled up until it burst.

“There was a lot of water behind it,” he said. “I assume there was a cavity behind the logs where the water kept piling up. There was just so much pressure that it washed it down the hill.”

For more on this story, see the Jan. 9, 2019 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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