Floods play havoc with logging roads, trains

Closed highways and washouts played havoc with big businesses that transport goods throughout the district—and are expected to continue causing headaches for weeks ahead.
Abitibi-Consolidated had to divert trucks and wood chips, and halt use of hundreds of logging roads in the region, following two days of torrential rain last week.
While the highways have been re-opened and there is little danger of running out of wood in the near future, the system of logging roads throughout the area sustained serious damage.
Crews have been monitoring logging roads from the air daily for the past week. One area of concern is the bridge on Turtle River Road near Otter Falls, which has had the road around it erode due to rising flood waters.
“The bridge is still in place but we don’t know for sure the extent of the damage ’til we get to the site,” Woodlands manager Jim Krag said Tuesday.
“There’s lots of areas of concern. Most of the gravel road systems have suffered severe damage,” Krag noted. “There’s been 100 washouts identified so far and it will be most of the summer before all the roads are re-opened.”
In the meantime, Krag said they are supporting the Ministry of Natural Resources in urging people not to use gravel roads at this time.
Flooding also damaged CN rail lines between Winnipeg and Fort Frances and from Fort Frances to Thunder Bay. Service to Winnipeg was re-opened last week but the track to Thunder Bay remains closed for the near future.
“There were 30 areas of track undercut by water and a dozen of those caused significant damage and had to be repaired,” CN communications director Graham Dallas said Tuesday.
“We have three large washouts [west of Atikokan that still require] repairs before it will be back in operation by the first of July,” CN spokesman Ian Thompson added.
For now, rail traffic is being re-routed north of Thunder Bay to Longlac while trains are running as usual between Winnipeg and Chicago.
More than 125 people were on site accessing and repairing damage to tracks but Dallas said they will not rush opening lines until they are sure everything is safe.
“The crucially important factor is safety,” he stressed. “They won’t put any lines back on ’til everyone is 100 percent sure all the problems are solved.
“We’re very proud that there were no incidents or injuries and no train derailments [due to flood damage] because we took the right precautions,” he added.