Members from Dawson Group‘s McGill corporate office did a site visit last week and saw what it was like to walk a kilometre (or 10) in the shoes of our crews when they visited the Dunn Lake Road project site. Dawson Civil Superintendent Rob Gray and Quality Control Inspector Alex Sawatzky provided an in-depth tour for our team.

Dawson Civil began working on the Dunn Lake Road project last winter. Previously, Dunn Lake Road was a windy, gravel highway that became hazardous each spring due to poor water management during freshet. More than 20 culverts (different sizes) have been installed, as crews are now raising the levels of the road prior to paving.

Since then, the project has been moving along at a great pace and has been a welcomed sight by the surrounding community.

Meghan Swannell checking out a new culvert

“This project is unique in the fact that we are quite remote. We don’t have to deal with high traffic volumes and we get to interact with the community on a much closer level. I have stopped to chat with several community members during traffic delays during construction and they are all thrilled with the work that we are doing. These people have long deserved a paved road and they are all eagerly waiting to see the finished product. It’s been great to work in an area where the respect and the relationship with the people we are working for is so strong,” said Gray.

There are also sections of the 10-km project that are being realigned. Major curves are being straightened out and the highway is becoming more level in other places, which will enhance the safety and longevity of the new highway. Unlike other highway projects, the Dunn Lake Road project has our crews working on different sections at different times and then tying the new sections of highway into the existing one, instead of building a long, smooth surface that flows easily from the start to the finish. It’s an added level of difficulty that the crew has handled quite well.

As Dawson Civil realigns the highway and prepares it for asphalt, they are also managing environmental projects that run parallel to the highway.

Earlier this spring, a dozer unexpectedly unearthed a snake den – a giant mound of earth where hundreds of gardener snakes were hibernating. The snake den was previously unknown to be there and Dawson Civil immediately contacted environmental experts and the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI). The snakes were taken to a wildlife sanctuary, as they rebuilt the snake den and have now returned them to the environment.

A nearby wetland that Dawson Civil is restoring and improving during the project

Near the end of the project, plans are in place to enhance a wetland area near the north end of the project. With the realignment and straightening of this secondary highway, an opportunity will present itself once the curve in the old road is removed to lower the grass around the wetland, adding to the current wetland to make it bigger and better.

“Alex and Rob’s enthusiasm for their jobs and their excitement at being able to show us around really drove home just how special this particular project really is. The location is beautiful, the local citizens are thankful and the crucial work is progressing on schedule and under budget. Highlights of the trip included learning about the snake den rehabilitation and skunk cabbage marsh enhancement as well as spotting the mother black bear and her three cubs as they ran through the site,” said Meghan Swannell, Dawson Group Administrative Assistant. “I really appreciate being able to see these projects in person as it gives us office workers a much better understanding of what our behind the scenes efforts are supporting. Great job, Dawson Civil!”

Dawson Civil is looking forward to wrapping up this significant project up later this fall.

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