Some Kenora roadways are feeling the effects of one of the worst winters in over 60 years. Now that we are heading into spring and the over 300 cm of snow is starting to melt, a number of roadways in the area are being completely washed out.

The significant amount of snow has caused lake, river, creek, and swamp levels in the area to increase drastically in the last few weeks, giving the water now where to go expect over roadways, which then destroys the integrity of the road itself. 

The water level of Lake of the Woods has risen by 46 cm (18 in) since April 20, 2022. Since April 20, 2022, the Lake of the Woods Control Board (LWCB), has had to slowly increase the outflow from 500 m³/s to 1025 m³/s, with the latest increase coming on May 1, 2022. 

Kevin Gannon, Director of Engineering and Infrastructure, says crews have been pulled in all directions to try and repair or prevent further damage to roads done by the water.

“Trying to keep culverts clean, watch the roads when water is going over it, sometimes additional culverts may have to be added,” says Gannon. “It’s monitoring to make sure there are no washouts, to ensure the traffic is safe.”

“They’re doing some grading in the area to remove some of the washboard effects of the freeze and thaw and the traffic through those roads. They’re really trying to ensure those roads are intact and that they’re going to be usable.”

Yesterday, the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) had to shut down Highway 658, just south of Redditt, due to water flowing over the highway. A detour route was put in place through English River Rd.

On Sunday, the Pellatt United Firefighters posted on their social media about closing down the last three kilometres of Ostersund Road, near Hager Road due to three large washouts.

Washed Out Road May 3.jpg Photo credit: Barry Bennett

Gannon notes within Kenora, the majority of the washouts crews are being dispatched to are taking place north of the city.

“We’re taking the Essex Road area, and up in those areas where they find, and it all determines on the call that we’re receiving. They are several others that they also mentioned that they’re trying to monitor and ensure the water is moving appropriately.”

Gannon recommends if residents come across a roadway that has suffered damage or is in need of repair to reach out to his department at 467-2097. He also reminds those that do report damaged roadways to be very specific on the condition of the road and the severity of the damage. Crews will be dispatched and will prioritize roadway repairs based on the severity of the damage.