Questions still loom over the sudden flood that washed out road in rural Grand Forks late Wednesday night, Sept. 15.
Whatever caused the flooding, it left a gaping hole in Gilpin Road not far from the intersection of Carson and Kenmore roads.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and its road maintenance contractor, Yellowhead Road and Bridge (YRB), were still trying to pinpoint the source of the flood as of 10 a.m. Thursday.
Greg McNeil, operations manager at YRB Kootenay Boundary, said the flooding came as a surprise, especially because the nearby Kettle River remains in a state of severe drought.
“We haven’t had any real rain in the past seven months, so we definitely weren’t expecting a flash flood so soon after the dry spell,” he told The Gazette Wednesday night.
At the time, McNeil suspected the water had come from an irrigation pipe running through a farmer’s field, but this doesn’t appear to be the case. A drainage pipe exposed after the road collapsed was also ruled out.
The water has since slowed to a trickle, but it’s clearly flowing beneath the washed-out road. McNeil said the source could be an underground spring no one knew was there. The summer’s heat could have sapped underground water levels to the point where a resulting void turned the affected stretch of road into a sinkhole, he explained.
YRB must first identify and cap off the source of the water before crews can start rebuilding Gilpin, still closed between Carson Road and the Atwood Bridge. McNeil said cars could be back on the road as early as next Wednesday, Sept. 22.