Once the water recedes, road repair bills will flood in

It cost more than $2 million to repair a stretch of Bayview Drive in Constance Bay in 2018, according to the local city councillor, and now they'll likely have to rip it all up again after soaking in floodwaters for weeks.

The pricey road repair was only for a small stretch of the rural west Ottawa road that was flooded in 2017.

Coun. Eli El-Chantiry said this time, much of the road by the waterfront will need to be fixed.

He said not only has the road endured flooding, but the extra weight of military vehicles and heavy trucks filled will sand.

Àdding up the bill for road repairs in the affected area, as well as sewers, bridges, and other infrastructure, will likely be as catastrophic to municipal coffers as the disaster itself, he said.

"My experience from the last flood: our infrastructure, our roads gets really beat up," said El-Chantiry.

"So we're hoping, because the city declared a state of emergency, we're repaid or helped from both levels of government, federal and provincial."

Once the waters recede, the engineers will move in and assess the true damage to infrastructure throughout the region on both sides of the Ottawa River.

They will decide how badly a road submerged in dirty water has been compromised, how to best repair it, and whether an upgrade to prevent future flooding is possible and warranted.

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Engineer Halim Abd El Halim said roads submerged in water are damaged from the foundation, where materials such as sand, gravel and aggregate get eaten away then recede with the water, making the roadway potentially dangerous until a major repairs are done.

"They have to rebuild the road, but that's very expensive," said Abd El Halim, who is a transportation engineering professor at Carleton University.

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Abd El Halim said each assessment should include an examination of how to make the road more resilient against flooding next time, such as raising a road or building concrete walls.

He said those added costs are part of a political discussion.

"I am an engineer. Give me a problem that deals with engineering, I'll solve it for you," said Abd El Halim. 

"The bottom line is the decision will be from the taxpayer." 

Quyon wants permanent dike

Individual municipalities are choosing their battles with other levels of government.

The Mayor of Pontiac Joanne Labadie said Monday she's making a case to the Quebec government for a permanent dike to save downtown Quyon in a future flood.

Part of a dike built with sand by volunteers collapsed with rising waters, causing a frantic evacuation of homes in the area last week.

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Another gravel dike held the river back.

A study has already been completed and discussions have been ongoing to build a permanent dike since the 2017 flood, but Labadie said Monday the request will become more urgent.

In Ontario, towns and cities will be applying to a program called Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance. 

But El-Chantiry said municipalities will likely need the help of both levels of government to make sure the rebuild makes infrastructure more resilient for future events.