CORNER BROOK — Water flowed through Corner Brook streets like streams Thursday following a night and morning of heavy rainfall.
The mild and wet mid-winter weather created some hectic driving scenes, horrendous walking conditions, and wreaked havoc on city infrastructure.
City crews had been busy all week preparing for the suspected heavy rain and run-off, including clearing catch basins. Steve May, director of operational services, said the preparation work proved beneficial, but there were still a number of problem areas throughout the city Thursday.
A number of city streets — upper O’Connell Drive most notably — had substantial amounts of water flowing down or pooling on them. Walkers could be seen unsuccessfully ducking for cover as vehicles splashed water overhead and wipers were of little help to motorists as passing cars propelled water upon them.
Thursday, city crews were busy sandbagging certain areas, while continuing to clear catch basins throughout the city. They were also salting sidewalks and doing their best to ensure there was safe passage for both motorists and walkers. With a drop in temperature only a matter of time, crews were also trying to remove as much packed snow and slush before it can freeze.
The biggest concern late Thursday afternoon and into the evening, was the amount of water flowing on Bell’s Brook. The water level was just about a foot below the Main Street bridge, and city crews were monitoring the level and preparing to break up the ice in the area with excavators if it continued to rise.
Later in the afternoon, May said the water appeared to have levelled off, but they were not taking any chances. He said there is no history of ice damming along the brook and they were not aware that would be a problem now.
This change in weather condition can be particularly hard on the roads, sidewalks, and embankments themselves.
“Anywhere there is a crack in the asphalt or a small pothole, running water and cars travelling through the water or connecting with the pothole, the degradation that would occur in the roadway is certainly accelerated,” he said.
While the bigger issues were first and foremost Thursday, May expects city crews will be working on streets as soon as possible and for quite some time. There is an ongoing advisory to motorists to drive with caution.
“If there’s water running, there could be holes in the pavement that we are not aware of,” he said. “They could cause some damage, unfortunately.”
He also reminded people of the overnight parking ban on city streets, especially now with crews expected to be working around the clock to deal with these problems.
Meanwhile, it was a similar scene along the Trans-Canada Highway throughout western Newfoundland Thursday.
The Department of Transportation and Works was reporting slippery and slushy conditions on practically every route, and water build up from the Deer Lake area right to Port aux Basques was causing concern.
In the morning, there was a “huge” amount of water build up at the Corner Brook Stream overpass near Watson Pond and in the afternoon Route 460 at Noel’s Pond was closed due to water pouring over the road. Department officials were also advising people to stay off the Burgeo Highway, and equipment was operating there in an attempt to improve road conditions.
The mild, wet weather, combined with high winds, resulted in the closure of Marble Mountain Thursday. Marble will remain closed today and it is hoped to re-open Saturday morning.
Schools along the Northern Peninsula, in places like Port Saunders and Plum Point, were also closed in the morning. Students were back to class in the afternoon though as weather and travel conditions improved.