Risk keeps Sher­man Ac­cess closed

Wet weather, fail­ing in­fra­struc­ture force the clo­sure of three Mountain ac­cesses so far this year

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEW VAN DONGEN

UN­STA­BLE ES­CARP­MENT slopes above and be­low the Sher­man Ac­cess have now closed all but one lane of the three-kilo­me­tre road that climbs the Mountain.

The east leg of the ac­cess — used by about 9,000 ve­hi­cles a day — could stay closed to all traffic for a week or more af­ter sev­eral large boul­ders and the re­mains of an old tree slid down the slope and onto the edge of the road on the week­end.

No one was in­jured and no ve­hi­cles were dam­aged in the rock slide, but sev­eral trees are “perched pre­car­i­ously” at the edge of the col­laps­ing cliff and re­main a dan­ger to driv­ers, said city tech­ni­cal oper­a­tions man­ager Brian Hughes.

“We can’t re­open the road with that big one loom­ing over the edge,” said Hughes, who noted in­spec­tions Mon­day showed one ma­ture tree in par­tic­u­lar is at risk of tum­bling down the slope. “With all the rain we’ve been hav­ing, it wouldn’t take much for it to come down.”

A mix of bad weather and fail­ing in­fra­struc­ture has forced clo­sures of three ma­jor Mountain-climb­ing roads this year — so far.

The week­end rock fall came just weeks af­ter record rains caused a mud­slide that briefly closed the Ke­nil-

worth Ac­cess.

All down­bound lanes of the Clare­mont Ac­cess were closed for nearly four months start­ing last Novem­ber to al­low for the $1.1-mil­lion emer­gency re­moval of fail­ing metal bin walls along the road.

Shortly af­ter those lanes re­opened, how­ever, the city closed the out­side lane of the west leg of the Sher­man Ac­cess, cit­ing con­cerns about fail­ing re­tain­ing walls and slope sta­bil­ity un­der­neath the road­way. About 15,000 ve­hi­cles travel on that stretch each day.

Don’t look for a re­open­ing any time soon: The city will close all lanes of the west leg in July or Au­gust to do ma­jor re­pairs to the sus­pect re­tain­ing walls.

“It’s been a tough year for es­carp­ment roads all over,” said Hughes, point­ing the fin­ger in par­tic­u­lar to a soggy spring that dumped close to 170 mm of rain on the city in April alone, with pe­ri­odic del­uges in May, too.

“All of that rain has just cre­ated more prob­lems for us.”

De­spite the bad weather, Hughes added the lat­est rock slide was “a bit of a sur­prise” given it hap­pened along a stretch of the road not iden­ti­fied as in need of work.

It was also a bit of bad luck, with the rocks slid­ing down a sec­tion of slope with­out con­crete bar­ri­ers along the road. A block re­tain­ing wall is vis­i­ble just a few me­tres down the slope, while con­crete jersey bar­ri­ers are in­stalled about a dozen me­tres up the road.

The biggest boul­der, a flat slab about a me­tre in width, slid down the slope with a tan­gle of tree roots just in front of a yel­low and black sign warn­ing mo­torists about the po­ten­tial for fall­ing rocks.

Hughes said it’s too early to de­ter­mine what preven­tive work will hap­pen in the area, but he thought more con­crete bar­ri­ers would be con­sid­ered.

The Spec re­ported on a study of rock slide risk last year that rec­om­mended rock scal­ing, the ad­di­tion of con­crete bar­ri­ers or pro­tec­tive steel mesh at lo­ca­tions along both legs of the Sher­man Ac­cess.

The city has al­ready done much of that work, said Hughes — but un­til now, the sec­tion that col­lapsed on the week­end “was not con­sid­ered a par­tic­u­lar risk.”

The city had planned to in­stall more pro­tec­tive mesh along sheer sec­tions of

cliff on the east leg of the ac­cess this year — but prob­lems on the Clare­mont and Ke­nil­worth have al­ready burned through the $450,000 bud­geted for es­carp­ment work for all of 2017.

MATTHEW VAN DONGEN, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

The week­end rock slide on the east leg of the ac­cess was “a bit of a sur­prise,” oc­cur­ring along a stretch of the road not iden­ti­fied as in need of work.

CATHIE COWARD, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

The east leg of the Sher­man Ac­cess could stay closed to all traffic for a week or more af­ter sev­eral large boul­ders and the re­mains of an old tree slid down the slope and onto the edge of the road on the week­end.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.