The City of Kenora has plans to spend $750,000 to repair Pinecone Drive after the road crumbled away in May, with work expected to wrap up by the end of October.

After this spring’s high water levels and severe flooding, the left lane of Pinecone Drive washed out and fell apart – creating a dangerous single lane roadway for the remainder of the summer season for the 4 homes and families that live past the area.

In a Special Council Meeting on September 8, Kenora’s Chief Administrative Officer, Kyle Attanasio, confirmed that Kenora will be spending $750,000 with Winnipeg’s Stantec general engineering firm to conduct the repairs ahead of the winter season.

“We have significant risk and liability,” says Attanasio. “That is supposed to be a two-lane road. It is not meeting the minimum maintenance standards. This is work that has to take place. This is not something that we can leave. It’s also important that we get it done before freeze-up and before snow starts to fall.”

Geotechnical Engineer and Team Lead with Stantec, Kevin Baylis, explains that the firm has completed over 100 similar remediation projects across North America, and he and his team have not experienced a single failure.

Baylis explains that geotechnical studies and borehole drilling have been taking place throughout the summer to determine why Pinecone Drive failed. Essentially, he explains that the slopes on either side of the roadway were not long enough, and the material holding them together eventually gave out.

Now, Pinecone Drive has a roughly 42-metre long failure on one lane of the roadway, with an 8 metre wide failure on each slope of the road – which are about 3 metres in height below where they should be.

Councillor Sharon Smith questioned when the road was originally built and why it failed so severely. Stantec’s Baylis mused that it likely wasn’t built exceptionally well to begin with, but after the repairs, there shouldn’t be any concerns for Pinecone Drive moving forward.

Councillor Mort Goss and the city’s Municipal Engineer Marco Vogrig both pointed out that the road was built before Kenora’s amalgamation in 2000 and would have been developed under the former Township of Jaffray Mellick and not by current Roads staff – meaning the city should not be liable.

Stantec then presented councillors and the city with three options to complete the repairs.

The first option, which Baylis described as a ‘no brainer’ recommendation and was eventually accepted by the city, is a granular berm with a shear key project – with new local materials used to flatten out the slopes, which will also help with drainage. It can also be installed quickly, and the road won’t have to be shutdown while repairs take place. It has a cost of $750,000.

The second option, with a cost of $1.14 million, was a granular berm with a geogrid reinforcement project. It would rebuild the roadway’s slopes with synthetic material, but would have forced a shutdown of the roadway with major excavation work in the area. Stantec said this was the most time consuming solution.

The third option, using two rows of steel with sheet pile walls to rebuild the slopes and roadway, would have cost the city upwards of $2.1 million. Stantec says this option priced itself out of the discussion, as steel is at an all-time high price currently.

When councillor Andrew Poirier shared his concerns about the road falling away again as the city looked to select the most inexpensive option, Baylis explained that all three solutions would provide the same amount of safety and certainty that the road will be stable moving forward.

That prompted councillor Chris Van Wellegham to throw his support behind the first solution at a cost of $750,000, which councillors agreed with.

Attanasio says the final engineering drawings are expected to be completed later today, with quotes extended for materials likely by tomorrow. Then, Attanasio says the contract will be awarded around September 21, and work will start shortly afterwards with an expected completion by the end of October.

During the meeting, Attanasio explained that due to the upcoming municipal election, the City of Kenora’s council is in a ‘lame duck’ period – meaning they aren’t able to approve much spending. However, the city gave Attanasio the power to approve any spending above $50,000 earlier this month, and he will be authorizing the work later this month.