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The same autumn precipitation that ruined last year’s harvest for many Alberta farmers has also caused havoc on Sturgeon County gravel roads. The high amounts of precipitation we received in the fall of 2016, combined with a very wet spring, have caused many Sturgeon County gravel roads to soften and form ruts. Please note that Sturgeon County isn’t alone with this problem; many counties in Alberta are dealing with similar conditions.
Part of the problem in Sturgeon County is that many of our roads have weak foundations. More than 90 per cent of Sturgeon County’s original roads were built more than 65 years ago. The types and weights of vehicles, as well as the traffic volume, has changed dramatically since then. If a road has very deep ruts and large soft areas, we can usually correctly guess that it may not have a proper base. Rebuilding these roads will take years and is part of our long-term plan.
In the meantime, our only option is to continue to rebuild the top portion of the road and continue to re-establish road crowns (higher in the centre and lower on the sides) to help shed some of the rain. If a road can’t shed rain, the water will soak in and make the road soft and messy.
Our operators rework the gravel that’s on the side of the road and bring it to the centre. Vehicle traffic packs it down, and we repeat the process to build the centre. Over a period of 2-3 years, the road will re-establish a solid crown. Until that happens, though, we’ll continue to deal with softening roads in wet weather.
While it appears that the roads may be getting worse, residents will see great improvements in 2017. Although we understand your frustration with the recent challenges, we ask that you remain patient as we work through these issues.
In the meantime, our road conditions will be continually assessed and prioritized. If you have a concern, please log it at www.sturgeoncounty.ca/roadconcerns or call the Transportation Department at 780-939-8252.