The province has closed a section of Highway 83 near Asessippi ski hill after it collapsed.
The collapsed portion is 12 miles north of Inglis and 18 miles south of Roblin in the Shell River Valley just after the turnoff to Highway 366 near Inglis. Highway 83 between Roblin and Russell is closed.
RM of Shellmouth councillor Rick Goraluk said crews had been working to fix problems with Hwy 83 for several days when a large section of road collapsed on Sunday. Goraluk said the hole is more than four metres deep in places, and he speculates a recent storm may have washed away part of the unstable road.
"It's quite a mess," said Goraluk, who also operates Asessippi Beach & Campground. "It looks like something you see after a California earthquake."
Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation said they could not give a timeframe before the road is fixed, but said it could be closed for some time.
"It’s still moving, so it’s not going to be a quick fix," said Larry Halayko, director of contract services for Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation.
Halayko said the road has been plagued with problems since its construction in the 1960s, and that the department has been working on a solution.
He said the issues are caused by the road’s slope accompanied by soil and moisture movement underneath.
"If you’re building a sandcastle and you build it too steep and add water, it’s going to slough and slough," he said.
Halayko said the department is sending out a geotechnical engineer today or Wednesday to assess the site, and crews will also work on marking off an official detour in the next day or so. No work crews have started fixing the site since it’s still moving, he said.
Goraluk said the road had been dropping a few centimetres every day before the collapse.
"I don't think they could do anything until it stops moving. If you stand there, you can actually see dirt moving," he said. "It's been a problem for a long time."
Allison Zimmer, who lives in Inglis, was driving on the highway Saturday morning and noticed how much the road had dropped.
"I was a little nervous coming back," she said, adding the road had dropped two feet then. "You could tell it was starting to give way."
Karen Goraluk, who runs the Asessippi Beach & Campground with her husband Rick, said she’s worried about the effect of the road closure on business.
"Everyone coming from the south will have to be diverted," she said. "Of course we’re concerned."
She said the road will be a deterrent for people coming to the campground, especially if they don’t want to take gravel roads.
"It’s going to be a long time before they fix it," she said.