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Town of Deer Lake plans to backfill eroded sections of Humber River banks

The Town of Deer Lake is taking steps to help stem the erosion of parts of the Humber River bank.
The Town of Deer Lake is taking steps to help stem the erosion of parts of the Humber River bank. - Star file photo

The long-awaited fix to address some of the riverbank erosion issues in Deer Lake should happen soon and it isn’t expected to be as expensive as originally thought.

Access to Pine Tree Drive is still restricted to local traffic only. It’s been that way since shortly after a major rainstorm and snowmelt event in mid-January caused significant erosion of the sandy banks of the Humber River, along which the road courses.

The Town of Deer Lake had been thinking it would need to carry out repairs that would cost millions of dollars. The most likely option that had been discussed was to drive steel sheet pilings deep into the riverbank to stabilize it and mitigate any further erosion from the flowing river.

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Now, according to Mayor Dean Ball, the plan is to place armour stone into the areas where the bank shifted, then backfill and reshape the remediated banks.

“It’s still a fairly good chunk of work, but it won’t be up in the millions like we were talking before,” Ball said Monday.

In fact, this is essentially the same approach taken on Pine Tree Drive during a similar erosion event there nearly two decades ago.

The town had hired an engineering firm to look into the options available to address the issue. On Monday, about half a dozen local contractors were on-site with the engineering firm to walk through the affected areas and to see who was interested in bidding on the work.

Because it is still considered an emergency situation, the town won’t have to award the contract for the work at a public meeting. Ball said the contractor will likely be chosen later this week.

The plan is to get the work done as soon as possible this fall.

The erosion along Pine Tree Drive not only ate away at several private properties along the riverbank, but jeopardized some public water and sewer infrastructure below the road.

Ball hopes this fix will protect properties owned by residents and the town.

“You put your faith in those people to do what needs to be done,” he said of the engineers and contactors. “We’re adamant we want this done and done right.”

Pine Tree Drive wasn’t the only road in Deer Lake affected by the rising Humber River as a result of the storm in January. Riverbank Road, which saw sections drop after being undermined by the water, is also in need of repairs, but is not included in the contract to be worked out this week.

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