High water levels and shoreline erosion continue to take their toll on roadways near Lake Erie.
This time around, Talbot Trail is closed between Coatsworth Road and Stevenson Road until further notice in West Kent.
Municipal officials say the structural integrity of the road has been compromised in spots.
Chris Thibert, director of engineering and transportation, said the road is suffering where it is closest to the lake in the area, at a point where the road was actually moved nine years ago.
“Back in 2010, we pushed that road back to the north. Basically, the problem is right at the west limit where the old and new alignment come together,” he said. “That’s where the failure is occurring.”
At the base of the nearby bluff, the high water level on Lake Erie regularly has waves lapping up against the bluff. The soft soil and sand is falling into the lake due to the erosion.
Thibert said the ground is also laden with moisture.
“The bank just south of there is very dangerously close to the road. The biggest problem is the ground is super saturated. The water is right up to underneath the pavement. If you kick the bank, water just pours out,” he said. “The soil and gravel supporting the roadway are very heavy with moisture.”
Thibert said it may look fine, but it isn’t.
“The public would not see anything if they took a look at it. To the untrained eye, everything is all fine,” he said. “Measuring the erosion rates and the cracks and the failures along the edge of the bluff, the erosion rate is beyond control. It’s in the best interest to keep traffic off the road. Any additional weight would be detrimental.”
Thibert said Talbot Trail will remain closed in that area into 2020 as the municipality looks for solutions. He said to just shift the road again probably doesn’t make the most economic sense given the speed of erosion.
“Simply pushing the road a little bit towards the north might not be the best solution. It might only buy us five years. Why spend millions and millions for just five years,” he said. “We’re looking at short- and long-term solutions. We want to make the best choice for use of taxpayers’ money. We want to look to the future and not just put in place a Band-Aid solution.”
In the meantime, truck and heavy load traffic between Wheatley and Blenheim is encouraged to follow the posted D-1 detour route using Wheatley Road and Middle Line.
Local traffic can use Talbot Trial up to Coatsworth from the west and up to Port Road from the east before following another detour route.
All other roads along Talbot Trail from Wheatley to Coatsworth Road and from Blenheim to Port Road (which includes Stevenson, Baldwin and Radmore roads) will remain open.
Municipal officials remind people all businesses along Talbot Trail will remain open.