On a map, Yankee Flats Road’s descent to Salmon River Road looks pretty tame.
The reality is, the north end of the road is narrow, twisty and, according to one resident, began to slide into the valley some 100 feet below last winter.
While some work has been done, Silver Creek residents who travel the road daily are worried promises the road would be paved and barricades erected by the end of October will not be kept.
But an Oct. 30 email from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) says paving will take place Friday, Nov. 2 – weather permitting.
“Spring flooding caused significant damage, and that’s why five different sections of Yankee Flats Road were reconstructed in late 2017,” reads the email. “Additional gravel was placed in these five locations about a month ago, and the condition of the road has been monitored daily by the ministry.”
Lynne Fortin has lived on Yankee Flats for two years and travels the road twice a day to go to and from work. She says the road is heavily used by logging trucks, semis, tankers and more.
She says the road started to slide down the precipitous east bank last winter with very little clearing of ice and snow taking place.
Calling it a “gong show,” Fortin says driving on the road was scary as people wondered if the rest of it was going to let go.
“It was horrible,” she says, noting that in spring, following many complaints made to road maintenance company JPW, repairs began. The company, which has the current road maintenance contract with MOTI, told road users the work would take about two weeks to complete.
“They were there ripping up and rebuilding the road for darn near two months,” she says, pointing out traffic was reduced to one lane and 20-minute waits Monday through Friday to go up or down the road were common. “At night, they had flaggers, but they were sleeping in their trucks.”
Once the road was stabilized by prep work, all the equipment was removed and residents believed paving would come soon.
When nothing more happened, Silver Creek residents called JPW’s Armstrong office, only to be told by a receptionist that she had no idea when the road would be paved but she would have someone return their calls – something Fortin says never happened.
In late August, JPW advised residents the road was scheduled for paving but there was no firm time established.
Messages from concerned and impatient residents were posted throughout the summer and early fall on the Silver Creek Forum Facebook page questioning when the road issues would be addressed.
Columbia Shuswap Regional District Electoral Area D director Rene Talbot says he has followed up on every complaint he has received, passing them on to the Salmon Arm MOTI office as well as making MLA Greg Kyllo aware of the situation.
“I keep going after them; the ministry has been promising to pave Salmon River Road for two years and they keep putting it off,” he says of his frustration over lack of improvements to either Deep Creek or Salmon Valley roads. “They don’t give a damn about rural roads; they start things and never finish them.”
Talbot says he received an email from MOTI Area Manager Ken Namislo at the beginning of October saying the road would be paved on Oct. 15.
That email was posted on the Silver Creek Forum:
“Thursday, Oct. 11 they will be reshaping a portion of the road at the north end and expect 15 to 20-minute delays for three days; paving is planned for Monday, Oct. 15; guard rail installation, final works and clean-up could run to the end of October depending on the weather.”
More than a week later, the Yankee Flats site sits idle and road users worry that the snow will fall before the work is done.
“About a month ago they were putting in stakes and I asked, ‘do you know when they’re going to pave?” says Fortin. “One guy said ‘I don’t know anything’ and the other guy said ‘Yeah to make it look good.’ And cars since then have taken them out because there’s not enough room.”
A frustrated Fortin says when residents asked for protective barriers, traffic cones were set out instead – at least one lies beside a tree far below the road.
“We have a customer who worked for JPW who told us the company neglected to hire a paving company when they began the work,” says Fortin, who works at the Silver Creek Store. “Winter will wreck what they’ve done; they’ll have to come back.”