July 17th, 2024

Rainy conditions causing Cypress County gravel roads to soften; crews working “diligently” to respond to calls for service

By BRENDAN MILLER on July 6, 2024.

bmiller@medicinehatnews.com

The recent heavy rainfall Cypress County has experienced has taken a toll on its more than 2,400 kilometres of gravel roads, as residents report poor conditions and large potholes.

County officials say the frequency of rainfall has resulted in the gravel surface to become “soft” as the crushed rocks get absorbed into the surface of the road.

“As a result the gravel surface is more or less being pounded into the road,” explains Ken Jacobs, director of public works with the county. “As you’re driving it may be a bit more muddy than usual and may appear that there’s not a lot of gravel on the surface.”

Motorists are advised to be aware that the shoulders and edges of some roads may be more washed out than others and to drive safely under current conditions.

Jacobs says restoration work to county roads occurs every year, however the volume of calls for service over the last couple years has dropped due to dry conditions.

“It’s normal for these conditions when you get heavy, intense rains in areas. But you get it one or two days (later) again it becomes a little more challenging.”

The county began its annual gravelling program in early June with spot gravelling, however wet conditions led it to begin full gravelling by the middle of June, with crews focused on dry areas, pivoting work based on weather conditions.

Jacobs explains crews require dry conditions to maintain gravel roads effectively.

“(Once) it starts drying out the graders are able to properly maintain the roads, because when it is really wet you are unable to create the roads very well.”

The county says it expects dryer conditions in coming days and that crews will be out in force responding to calls for service.

“We’re really focussing right now on bringing the level of service back up to where it needs to be,” explains Jacobs. “Especially the gravel roads, they’re the ones that have taken the impact with the weather.”

Thursday the country reached out through social media to ask residents to report any major holes or washed-out roads by calling 403-526-2888, or by heading to the county’s website and clicking on the ‘Question or Concern’ tab.

“If you come across any issues with the road, for instance sometimes if there is a little existing pothole, a heavy rain can cause it to get bigger and bigger. We definitely want to know about any hazards that are on the roads.”

Hazards can also be reported on the county’s Facebook page.

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