An aerial view of the Highway 83 collapse near Inglis is shown earlier this year.
A 200-metre section of Highway 83 that collapsed in a sinkhole near Inglis could reopen to traffic before the year is out.
"They’re telling us that it’s supposed to be open to traffic by the end of December, but we haven’t heard anything formal," RM of Shellmouth-Boulton CAO Cindy Marzoff told the Sun yesterday.
"They’re tendering out the process so that they can hire a contractor to fill it in. They’ve actually done drainage and work on it. They feel that it hasn’t moved and it’s ready to be filled back in."
A landslide caused the sinkhole to form earlier this year. The highway is along a valley, and when the hill gave way, the road moved along with it.
Because of detours for motorists in the region, Marzoff says the municipality has been forced to spend extra money on municipal roads — Highway 83 is under provincial jurisdiction.
"We’ve done a lot more maintenance on our roads because every road that you have to travel on to divert from that slide goes on to our municipal roads. So yeah, we’re dealing with a lot of maintenance costs and safety issues."
Detours are in place to avoid the collapsed section of highway near Inglis between Roblin and Russell, adding nearly 30 kilometres to the trip.
The municipality and the province are currently in negotiations over who will pay for the added maintenance costs, Marzoff said, adding that provincial roads have also been affected by the need for traffic diversion.
The highway collapse has caused some headaches for area business, but not enough to create any major customer declines.
The marketing director for one of the largest tourist draws in the region, Asessippi Ski Area and Resort, doesn’t expect any problems once the business opens for the season on Dec. 7.
"Most of our traffic comes from the south, so that area is unaffected," said Roz Pulo, director of marketing at the resort.
"But there is a portion that comes from the north that will have to reroute. Luckily from Yorkton and those areas, they can use the detour on the other side of Lake of the Prairies and come up the Shellmouth dam. That won't be an extreme detour for them. It's just making sure our customers know they have to use it.
"And there is a portion that will definitely have to go around that area. But we don't predict its going to have a major impact on our traffic."
When reached by the Sun, a provincial spokesperson said the government would have more information on Highway 83 later this week.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 1, 2012