A washout on Highway 3 near the Paulson Bridge has reduced traffic to a single lane. (Photo courtesy Emcon Services Inc. Facebook page)

Water washes away section of Highway 3 at Paulson Pass

A major washout on Highway 3 east of the Paulson Bridge is expected to affect traffic for some time.

A major washout on Highway 3 two kilometres east of the Paulson Bridge is expected to affect traffic for quite some time.

The road is reduced to single-lane alternating traffic and speed is reduced to 70 km/h.

The area cannot be classified as stabilized, “There are still some stress fractures forming in the dirt, there is still a little bit of movement, there is still water, moisture coming through,” explained Ken Lawson, division manager for the Kootenay Boundary with Emcon Services Inc.

Lawson explained that the event was caused by water saturation of the soil in the area. “It was a sub-surface water runoff,” said Lawson.

More will be known on Tuesday, after repair options have been reviewed. Geotechnical specialists are on site looking at what can be done. Surveyors are also calculating amounts, quantities and distances.

As can be seen in the accompanying photo, the orange cable hanging in the middle of the washout is a Telus fibre optic cable that was buried in the shoulder of the road. The cable is still intact and functioning. “It has not been compromised yet, but we are going to have to work around it,” explained Lawson.

Emcon is providing site safety, currently flagging around the clock. Once a plan is in place, they will be assisting in whatever way they can with the repairs.

Lawson wants to remind everyone driving the route to be cautious and prepared, “Be careful because you are coming down that big hill — there are big trucks as well,” he said.