In June 2011, heavy rains washed out a portion of Route 148 between Luskville and Quyon, forcing traffic to detour along narrow gravel roads for more than two months. At the time I noted that had the washout occured east of Parker Road rather than west of it, no detour would have been possible: westbound traffic would have had to double back to Gatineau, and eastbound traffic would have had to take the Eardley-Masham Road or the Quyon Ferry.
In April 2013, a sinkhole opened up on Route 148 about a kilometre east of Alary Road; once again traffic was rerouted along local roads for more than ten months, and once again I noted the following:
Had there been a sinkhole west of Alary and east of Parker, no detour via back roads would have been possible; all traffic to and from the city would have had to be rerouted via La Pêche or Renfrew. You couldn’t get from the eastern end of the Municipality of Pontiac to the western end without going through Gatineau. Fortunately that stretch of the highway doesn’t appear to have any culverts.
Turns out I was wrong about that stretch not having any culverts. Yesterday heavy weather tore through our region, generating a microburst that damaged houses. This morning another sinkhole opened up on Route 148.
That’s right: between Alary and Parker. No detour along local roads is possible, because there is no local road network between those two roads. The Pontiac has effectively been cut in half.
On its home page, the Municipality of Pontiac reports that the MTQ is working on a by-pass that might be ready by tomorrow. Which is good, because otherwise we’re in for a real mess this summer, especially if it takes the two-plus-months to fix the damn hole that it took the last two times.
If a by-pass doesn’t open, anyone commuting from west of the sinkhole to, say, Aylmer just got an hour added to their already long commute, and travellers will have to choose between a long detour via Wakefield and Masham, the Quyon Ferry (which luckily reopened less than two weeks ago), or the long way around past Renfrew, to get to and from this region.
CBC News reports that Pontiac Mayor Roger Larose warned provincial officials a month ago about the culvert in question. But the Municipality of Pontiac should shoulder some blame for the lack of a local road network. That Alary and Parker needed another connection, that the stretch of the 148 between those two roads was vulnerable, should have been apparent after the 2011 washout. It should be really flipping obvious now.
Additional news coverage: CFRA, CTV, Radio-Canada, Le Droit.
Update, July 4 at 3:50 PM:
Police for the MRC des Collines report that one lane of Route 148 has been reopened to traffic. See earlier reports from CBC News and the Ottawa Citizen about the construction of the temporary, single-lane bypass.