It's been a long time since Hwy. 5 west of Humboldt was open to traffic, but Jim Reiter, Minister of Highways and Infrastructure, thinks the road will be open soon."We're hoping sooner, but it should be open by the end of next week," said Reiter in a interview July 29. That means the highway should be open by August 7 or 8.The section of highway, approximately seven kilometers west of Humboldt, has been closed since July 2, when water from the sloughs that border the road flooded the highway.The Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure (MHI) had installed rip rap to stop the erosion of the highway and sandbags along the side to try to prevent flooding, but was forced to close the highway when the water level rose to about a foot deep on ."We're dealing with levels of rain that we've never really seen before," said Reiter. "The road wasn't designed for that. It was built back in the 50s and it just couldn't accommodate (the rain)."
They are now working on the first part of a two part plan to make the highway usable again.They are raising the highway surface to above the water level, but have run into some complications."It's mud now," said Reiter. "They were hauling aggregate in, which is what you do, but it's almost like a sponge. So as you put the aggregate in on top, the water rises up, its muddy, it pushes out to the side, and it causes all kind of difficulties."To compensate for the problem, the crews are putting down layers of geo-tech style fabric to help stabilize the road."It seems like that's working," said Reiter.Once they are finished and can get traffic moving again on the highway, they will go back and make more permanent repairs, said Reiter. "It's been a long time," said Reiter of the highway closure, "but these are extreme conditions we are dealing with."He doesn't have an exact date for the highway re-opening and was hesitant to pick one."They're working full tilt on it and, as it goes, they deal with the density and the compaction," said Reiter. "They try to do it as quickly as they can, (but) if they hit a bit of a stumble, it's going to take a bit longer... If things go smoother, it will be a bit sooner, but just roughly, we are expecting it to be open before the end of next week."Reiter knows the highway closure is a major issue in Humboldt and feels the citizens frustration."I know that people are feeling frustrated because it is a major inconvenience," said Reiter."I hope people will be a little patience and remember that, again, these are conditions we've never had before. The road wasn't designed for that and we're working to fix it as quickly as we can."