Rob Optimistic as spring thaw arrives

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

There may have been some concern amongst flood-weary residents, watching the high snow levels from last week’s storm, mixed with this week’s balmy forecast. But Operations and Facilities Manager Travis Rob– who is also serving as interim CAO– was confident that the town’s drainage systems would handle the melt.

Rob was quick to point out that while this week’s temperatures are the warmest we’ve seen so far this spring, thawing earlier in the season will help the system cope.

“This isn’t the start of the melt,” Rob said. “We’ve been slowly melting up until this point, which in the world of roads is a good thing. Melt and roads are never a good thing but the slow melt that we’ve had leading up to this week has been good because it’s allowed us to make our way around to get catch basins opened up, get storm systems thawed.”

What’s more, the catch basins and storm drainage have had time to dry and haven’t refrozen since the earlier melt, allowing the system to handle this week’s sudden thaw.

Some of the difficulty comes in when there is a lot of melt and refreeze, Rob says.

“The challenge when you’re thawing catch basins is if it gets really cold at night, really warm during the day then really cold at night, every morning you’re basically going back and doing three quarters of the work that you did the day before thawing the catch basins.”

The process of thawing catch basins involves using a propane-fueled steamer to melt the ice that has built up over the winter. The idea is to get water flowing to increase the draining capacity of the system.

“Typically when we’re doing catch basins that are frozen, we’ll go downstream and work back towards the puddle,” Rob said. “Once that puddle starts to flow, we basically pull our equipment out and we let gravity take it from there.”

There are also some catch basins that still need to be repaired from the flooding of last spring and summer. Rob says they will be keeping an eye on these throughout the season until they can be repaired with the road work tender out for this year.

Along with the disappearing snow comes the appearance of potholes. Rob says the town has actually been able to do some patching throughout most of the winter.

“I think this is one of the first winters where we spent most of the winter actually doing pothole patching just because of the type of winter that it was. We’re out as soon as we can, doing pothole patching, trying to address the priority roads first,” Rob said.

The conditions required to patch mean it has to be done on dry days, no matter how cold. When the situation is desperate, they can fill potholes on wet days but it’s not ideal.

There are a few road projects planned for the spring and summer as well.

In the area of the Legion Park, Lillie Ave will be rebuilt in an effort to add to the refresh of the park, the project includes the road reconstruction, the parking for the playground and the underground requirements for new traffic lights at the Lillie Ave and Kings Highway intersection.

Other projects on tap for the upcoming construction season include the completion of the work on Mowat Ave. One of the bigger projects will be the reconstruction of Sinclair St. between Armit Ave. and Victoria Ave. There will also be surface asphalt work done on Sunset Dr. and Armit Ave in the area of Safeway.