Flooding snarls E. Sask. grain routes

CNS Canada — Grain companies aren’t seen as likely to be pulling much grain from the southeast corner of Saskatchewan in the near future.

Norm Hall, president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, said logistics are “a nightmare” right now because of the recent wet weather. Bridges are out, culverts plugged up and many roads impassable or washed out just enough to make them unsafe.

“Guys can’t get out on the road, out of their yards, or to their bins,” he explained.

Hauling grain right now is likely not a big focus for a lot of farmers, but Hall said just getting fieldwork done or heading to town is an ordeal.

“If you do get on the road sometimes you just about double your mileage to get where you’re going because of the detours that are set up.”

He cited Highway 16 near Wynyard as one example: the road is now washed out and Hall said it’s a 30-mile detour.

A spokesman from Saskatchewan Highways confirmed special allowances are being made for heavy trucks in the area. In some cases they are being directed one way while light traffic is being sent another.

Twenty-three highways are closed while several more have water on them, although traffic is being allowed through.

Highway 1 was temporarily closed but has now been re-opened.

A rail line also had to be repaired due to heavy water flows, which required heavy equipment to be brought in.

“That’s repaired and up and running again but they’re working on fixing the other washouts now, so that slowed things down for a 36- or 72-hour period,” said Hall.

Canadian National Railway (CN), for one, said a number of branch lines suspended operations Sunday and have since resumed “at least partial operations.”

Trains circulating along its Assiniboine branch line are now restricted to daylight hours only, CN said, while portions of its Togo, Yorkton, Craik, Central Butte and Qu’appelle lines are out of service.

Over the long termq, Hall added, the region will recover and grain will flow normally. High water levels have been a frequent occurrence over the past five years.

“The roads will recover and there shouldn’t be any long-term effects on them. We just need that bright yellow thing in the sky to shine.”

According to the Manitoba government, 72 sections of provincial roads have been impacted by rainfall there and are either closed or marked with caution. That figure doesn’t include municipal roads.

— Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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